A study has found that sending a text every day to asthmatic children, asking about their symptoms and offering more information about their condition, can have a positive effect.
A study by the Georgia Institute of Technology found patients who received the regular SMS “showed improved pulmonary function and a better understanding of their condition” within four months compared to other groups.
“It appears that text messages acted as an implicit reminder for patients to take their medicine and, by the end of the study, the kids were more in tune with their illness,” said study leader Rosa Arriaga, senior research scientist in the College of Computing’s School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech.
Researchers randomly assigned 30 asthmatic children from a private pulmonary clinic in Atlanta into three groups. Firstly there was a control group that did not receive any SMS messages. A second group received text messages on alternate days. And a third group received texts every day. The children were aged between 10 and 17 years old, owned a mobile phone and could read at least to a fifth grade level.
Over four months, the ‘intervention’ groups received and responded to SMS messages 87 per cent of the time, and the average response time was within 22 minutes.
After the study, the research team analysed patients who had follow-up visits and found that sending at least one text message a day, whether it was a question relating to symptoms or generally about asthma, improved clinical outcomes.