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A Text Message a Day Keeps the Asthma Attack Away

Simply sending children with asthma a text message each day asking about their symptoms and providing knowledge about their condition can lead to improved health outcomes.

In a study by the Georgia Institute of Technology, patients who were asked questions about their symptoms and provided information about asthma via text messages showed improved pulmonary function and a better understanding of their condition within four months compared with 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,” says study leader Rosa Arriaga, PhD, senior research scientist in the College of Computing’s School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech.

In both studies, the researchers randomly assigned 30 asthmatic children from a private pediatric pulmonology clinic in Atlanta into three groups: a control group that did not receive any messages, a group that received text messages on alternate days, and a group that received texts every day. The children were between 10 and 17 years old, owned a mobile phone, and could read at least at a fifth-grade level.

Over four months, the intervention groups received and responded to messages 87% of the time, and the average response time was 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.

In another mobile health study that highlighted the role that online social networks can have on wellness, researchers investigated whether social networking could help individuals with autism improve their social connectedness.

One challenge individuals with autism face is not having a large enough network of people who can provide advice about everyday situations, such as home upkeep, financial planning, or relationships. They tend to heavily rely on a primary caregiver, which limits their independence and may burden the caregiver.

— Source: Georgia Institute of Technology