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Study: Text Messages are Effective Intervention for Asthmatic Children

April 30, 2013
by Gabriel Perna
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According to the results of a study from researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, sending a child with asthma a text message that prods them on their symptoms and help them better understand the condition can improve outcomes.

The researchers sorted 30 asthmatic children into three groups: a controlled group that did not receive any text messages, a group that received text messages on alternate days, and a group that received texts every day. The text messages asked the children basic questions on their symptoms and provided general information on asthma. The children who had gotten at least one text message per day showed improved pulmonary function and a better understanding of their condition within four months, in comparison to the 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,” Rosa Arriaga, study leader and senior research scientist in the College of Computing’s School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech, said in a statement.

The intervention groups received and responded to text messages 87 percent of the time, and the average response time was within 22 minute. The children were between 10 and 17 years old, owned a mobile phone, and could read at least at a fifth grade level.

According to the researchers, less than 30 percent of teens with asthma use their inhalers regularly, while texting is something that they do regularly.  A similar study, the researchers noted, had showed the positive effects of text message intervention for young asthmatic patients. The results of that study were published Proceedings of the 2nd ACM SIGHIT International Health Informatics Symposium in early 2012, they said.

“The results indicate that both awareness and knowledge are crucial to individuals engaging in proactive behavior to improve their condition,” Arriaga said.

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