Online social networks and smoking cessation: A scientific research agenda

Nathan K. Cobb, Amanda L. Graham, M. Justin Byron, Raymond S. Niaura, David B. Abrams, Participants Workshop Participants, Participants Workshop Participants

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Smoking remains one of the most pressing public health problems in the United States and internationally. The concurrent evolution of the Internet, social network science, and online communities offers a potential target for high-yield interventions capable of shifting population-level smoking rates and substantially improving public health. Objective: Our objective was to convene leading practitioners in relevant disciplines to develop the core of a strategic research agenda on online social networks and their use for smoking cessation, with implications for other health behaviors. Methods: We conducted a 100-person, 2-day, multidisciplinary workshop in Washington, DC, USA. Participants worked in small groups to formulate research questions that could move the field forward. Discussions and resulting questions were synthesized by the workshop planning committee. Results: We considered 34 questions in four categories (advancing theory, understanding fundamental mechanisms, intervention approaches, and evaluation) to be the most pressing. Conclusions: Online social networks might facilitate smoking cessation in several ways. Identifying new theories, translating these into functional interventions, and evaluating the results will require a concerted transdisciplinary effort. This report presents a series of research questions to assist researchers, developers, and funders in the process of efficiently moving this field forward.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere119
JournalJournal of medical Internet research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2011


  • Addiction
  • Smoking cessation
  • Social networks
  • Social support
  • Tobacco
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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