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Text messages about asthma could help children breathe easier

Daily text messages may be an effective option to help children with asthma manage their symptoms and reduce doctor visits, according to recent research from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

In the study (.pdf), pediatric patients with asthma were randomly assigned to three programs: one group received text messages on alternate days, another received text messages daily and a third served as the control and did not receive any text messages. Participants ranged in age from 10 to 17 years old, owned a mobile phone and could read at the fifth grade level. The text messages asked patients questions about their symptoms and provided health information about asthma. Futurity reports:

Over four months, the intervention groups received and responded to SMS messages 87 percent of the time, and the average response time was within 22 minutes. After the study, the research team analyzed patients who had follow-up visits with their physician and found that sending at least one text message a day, whether it was a question about symptoms or about asthma in general, improved clinical outcomes.

“The results indicate that both awareness and knowledge are crucial to individuals engaging in proactive behavior to improve their condition,” [said Rosa Arriaga, PhD, who led the study].

The findings are noteworthy in light of past data showing texting is teenagers' preferred method of communication, they get an average of 3,339 texts a month, and previous research showing they are amenable to receiving health information via text message.

Previously: CDC explores potential of using smartphones to collect public health data, Promoting healthy decisions among teens via text and Craving a cigarette but trying to quit? A supportive text message might help
Photo by Summer Skyes 11

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