Self-care is an extremely important aspect of the treatment course in asthmatic patients, and new research indicates that the well being of children with the condition could be improved if they were simply sent a relevant text message each day.
Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology replicated conditions of a study presented at the Proceedings of the Second ACM SIGHIT International Health Informatics Symposium in order to determine whether communicating with young patients in this way was beneficial.
Investigators recruited 30 asthmatic ten to 17-year-olds who were attending a private pediatric pulmonology clinic and randomly assigned them into three different groups so that they could compare the effects of different experimental conditions.
One set of participants was sent a text message per day, which prompted them to consider their symptoms or provided them a piece of information concerning the respiratory illness. Another received this communication every other day.
The remaining subjects acted as a control group, and were not sent any messages. Researchers ensured that all children involved were able to understand the texts by checking that they had attained a certain reading level.
Investigators then analysed clinical outcomes of the youngsters by looking at healthcare records and gaining information from physicians, and cross-referenced outcomes of each group to determine whether there were any significant trends.
Findings revealed that sending one text message per day was associated with improved wellbeing. This might involve lower incidence of symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing, tightness in the chest or breathlessness.
Lead author of the study Rosa Arriaga said: "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."
Findings were presented at the ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2013, and could have implications in terms of treating other illnesses. Many patients could benefit from prompts which motivate them to take their medicine.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), half of people fail to take drugs correctly. This could be having a hugely detrimental impact on their quality of life.