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1.  A Text Message Alcohol Intervention for Young Adult Emergency Department Patients: A Randomized Clinical Trial 
Annals of emergency medicine  2014;64(6):664-672.e4.
Opportunistic brief in-person Emergency Department (ED) interventions can be effective at reducing hazardous alcohol use in young adult drinkers, but require resources frequently unavailable. Mobile phone text messaging (SMS) could sustainably deliver behavioral support to young adult patients, but efficacy remains unknown. We report 3-month outcome data of a randomized controlled trial testing a novel SMS-delivered intervention in hazardous drinking young adults.
We randomized 765 young adult ED patients who screened positive for past hazardous alcohol use to one of three groups: SMS Assessments + Feedback (SA+F) intervention who were asked to respond to drinking-related queries and received realtime feedback through SMS each Thursday and Sunday for 12 weeks (n=384); SMS Assessments (SA) who were asked to respond to alcohol consumption queries each Sunday but did not receive any feedback (N=196); and a control group who did not participate in any SMS (n=185). Primary outcomes were number of binge drinking days and number of drinks per drinking day in the past 30 days collected by web-based Timeline Follow-Back method and analyzed with regression models. Secondary outcomes were the proportion of participants with weekend binge episodes and most drinks consumed per drinking occasion over 12 weekends collected by SMS.
Using web-based data, there were decreases in the number of binge drinking days from baseline to 3 months in the SA+F group (-.51 [95% confidence interval {CI} -.10 to -.95]), whereas there were increases in the SA group (.90 [95% CI .23 to 1.6]) and the control group (.41 [95% CI -.20 to 1.0]). There were also decreases in the number of drinks per drinking day from baseline to 3 months in the SA+F group (-.31 [95% CI -.07 to -.55]), whereas there were increases in the SA group (.10 [95% CI -.27 to .47]) and the control group (.39 [95% CI .06 to .72]). Using SMS data, there was a lower mean proportion of SA+F participants reporting a weekend binge over 12 weeks (30.5% [95% CI 25% to 36%) compared to the SA participants (47.7% [95% CI 40% to 56%]). There was also a lower mean drinks consumed per weekend over 12 weeks in the SA+F group (3.2 [95%CI 2.6 to 3.7]) compared to the SA group (4.8 [95% CI 4.0 to 5.6]).
A text message intervention can produce small reductions in binge drinking and the number of drinks consumed per drinking day in hazardous drinking young adults after ED discharge.
PMCID: PMC4254153  PMID: 25017822
2.  Mobile phone text message intervention to reduce binge drinking among young adults: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial 
Trials  2013;14:93.
Heavy episodic (binge) drinking is common among young adults and can lead to injury and illness. Young adults who seek care in the Emergency Department (ED) may be disproportionately affected with binge drinking behavior, therefore provide an opportunity to reduce future risk through screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment (SBIRT). Mobile phone text messaging (SMS) is a common form of communication among young adults and has been shown to be effective at providing behavioral support to young adult drinkers after ED discharge. Efficacy of SMS programs to reduce binge drinking remains unknown.
We will conduct a three parallel arm, randomized trial. A convenience sample of adults aged 18 to 25 years attending three EDs in Pittsburgh, PA and willing to participate in the study will be screened for hazardous alcohol consumption. Participants identified as hazardous drinkers will then be allocated to either 12 weeks of weekly SMS drinking assessments with feedback (SA+F), SMS drinking assessments without feedback (SA), or a control group. Randomization will be via an independent and remote computerized randomization and will be stratified by study site. The SA+F group will be asked to provide pre-weekend drinking intention as well as post-weekend consumption via SMS and will receive feedback messages focused on health consequences of alcohol consumption, personalized normative feedback, protective drinking strategies and goal setting. Follow-up data on alcohol use and injury related to alcohol will be collected through a password-protected website three, six and nine months later. The primary outcome for the study is binge drinking days (≥4 drinks for women; ≥5 drinks for men) during the previous month, and the main secondary outcome is the proportion of participants who report any injury related to alcohol in the prior three months.
This study will test the hypothesis that a mobile phone text-messaging program will result in immediate and durable reductions in binge drinking among at-risk young adults. By testing an intervention group to an assessment-only and control group, we will be able to separate the effect of assessment reactivity. By collecting pre-weekend drinking intentions and post-weekend consumption data in the SA+F group, we will be able to better understand mechanism of change.
Trial registration NCT01688245
PMCID: PMC3652768  PMID: 23552023
Alcohol misuse; Intervention; Randomized controlled trial; Effectiveness
3.  Efficacy of a web- and text messaging-based intervention to reduce problem drinking in young people: study protocol of a cluster-randomised controlled trial 
BMC Public Health  2014;14(1):809.
Problem drinking, particularly risky single-occasion drinking is widespread among adolescents and young adults in most Western countries. Mobile phone text messaging allows a proactive and cost-effective delivery of short messages at any time and place and allows the delivery of individualised information at times when young people typically drink alcohol. The main objective of the planned study is to test the efficacy of a combined web- and text messaging-based intervention to reduce problem drinking in young people with heterogeneous educational level.
A two-arm cluster-randomised controlled trial with one follow-up assessment after 6 months will be conducted to test the efficacy of the intervention in comparison to assessment only. The fully-automated intervention program will provide an online feedback based on the social norms approach as well as individually tailored mobile phone text messages to stimulate (1) positive outcome expectations to drink within low-risk limits, (2) self-efficacy to resist alcohol and (3) planning processes to translate intentions to resist alcohol into action. Program participants will receive up to two weekly text messages over a time period of 3 months. Study participants will be 934 students from approximately 93 upper secondary and vocational schools in Switzerland. Main outcome criterion will be risky single-occasion drinking in the past 30 days preceding the follow-up assessment.
This is the first study testing the efficacy of a combined web- and text messaging-based intervention to reduce problem drinking in young people. Given that this intervention approach proves to be effective, it could be easily implemented in various settings, and it could reach large numbers of young people in a cost-effective way.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN59944705.
PMCID: PMC4133614  PMID: 25099872
Alcohol; Problem drinking; Web; Internet; Text messaging; Social norms; Young people; Students
4.  A Theory-Based Video Messaging Mobile Phone Intervention for Smoking Cessation: Randomized Controlled Trial 
Advances in technology allowed the development of a novel smoking cessation program delivered by video messages sent to mobile phones. This social cognitive theory-based intervention (called “STUB IT”) used observational learning via short video diary messages from role models going through the quitting process to teach behavioral change techniques.
The objective of our study was to assess the effectiveness of a multimedia mobile phone intervention for smoking cessation.
A randomized controlled trial was conducted with 6-month follow-up. Participants had to be 16 years of age or over, be current daily smokers, be ready to quit, and have a video message-capable phone. Recruitment targeted younger adults predominantly through radio and online advertising. Registration and data collection were completed online, prompted by text messages. The intervention group received an automated package of video and text messages over 6 months that was tailored to self-selected quit date, role model, and timing of messages. Extra messages were available on demand to beat cravings and address lapses. The control group also set a quit date and received a general health video message sent to their phone every 2 weeks.
The target sample size was not achieved due to difficulty recruiting young adult quitters. Of the 226 randomized participants, 47% (107/226) were female and 24% (54/226) were Maori (indigenous population of New Zealand). Their mean age was 27 years (SD 8.7), and there was a high level of nicotine addiction. Continuous abstinence at 6 months was 26.4% (29/110) in the intervention group and 27.6% (32/116) in the control group (P = .8). Feedback from participants indicated that the support provided by the video role models was important and appreciated.
This study was not able to demonstrate a statistically significant effect of the complex video messaging mobile phone intervention compared with simple general health video messages via mobile phone. However, there was sufficient positive feedback about the ease of use of this novel intervention, and the support obtained by observing the role model video messages, to warrant further investigation.
Trial registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry Number: ACTRN12606000476538; (Archived by WebCite at
PMCID: PMC3221331  PMID: 21371991
smoking cessation; cellular phone
5.  Perceptions of adult trauma patients on the acceptability of text messaging as an aid to reduce harmful drinking behaviours 
BMC Research Notes  2014;7:4.
Brief interventions (BIs) have been shown to be effective in modifying hazardous drinking behaviours in a range of settings. However, they are underutilised in hospitals due to resource constraints. We explored the perspectives of admitted trauma patients about the appeal, acceptability and content of a Brief Intervention (BI) delivered via text messages.
Thirty mobile phone users (≥16 years old) admitted to Auckland City Hospital as a result of injury were recruited (December 2010 – January 2011). Participants were interviewed face-to-face during their hospital stay using a semi-structured interview guide that explored topics including perceptions of the proposed intervention to reduce hazardous drinking and related harm, and perceived acceptability of an m-health program. Where issues relating to content of messages were raised by participants these were also captured. In addition, a brief survey captured information on demographic information, mobile phone usage and type of phone, along with the frequency of alcohol use.
22 of the 30 participants were male, and almost half were aged 20 to 39 years. The majority of participants identified as New Zealand Europeans, six as Māori (New Zealand's indigenous population) and of the remainder two each identified as Pacific and of Asian ethnicity. Most (28/30) participants used a mobile phone daily. 18 participants were deemed to be drinking in a non-hazardous manner, seven were hazardous drinkers, and three were non-drinkers. Most participants (21/30) indicated that text messages could be effective in reducing hazardous drinking and related harms, with more than half (17/30) signalling they would sign-up. Factors identified that would increase receptiveness included: awareness that the intervention was evidence-based; participants readiness-to-change; informative messages that include the consequences of drinking and practical advice; non-judgemental messages; and ease-of-use. Areas of potential concern included: confidentiality and frequency of messages. The cultural relevance of the messages for Māori was highlighted as important.
This study indicates that trauma patients recognize potential benefits of mobile-health interventions designed to reduce hazardous drinking. The feedback provided will inform the development of an intervention to be evaluated in a randomised controlled trial.
PMCID: PMC3884009  PMID: 24387293
Cellular phones; m-health intervention; Alcohol drinking; Brief intervention for harm (BI); Accidents
6.  Efficacy of an internet and SMS-based integrated smoking cessation and alcohol intervention for smoking cessation in young people: study protocol of a two-arm cluster randomised controlled trial 
BMC Public Health  2014;14(1):1140.
Tobacco smoking prevalence continues to be high, particularly among adolescents and young adults with lower educational levels, and is therefore a serious public health problem. Tobacco smoking and problem drinking often co-occur and relapses after successful smoking cessation are often associated with alcohol use. This study aims at testing the efficacy of an integrated smoking cessation and alcohol intervention by comparing it to a smoking cessation only intervention for young people, delivered via the Internet and mobile phone.
A two-arm cluster-randomised controlled trial with one follow-up assessment after 6 months will be conducted. Participants in the integrated intervention group will: (1) receive individually tailored web-based feedback on their drinking behaviour based on age and gender norms, (2) receive individually tailored mobile phone text messages to promote drinking within low-risk limits over a 3-month period, (3) receive individually tailored mobile phone text messages to support smoking cessation for 3 months, and (4) be offered the option of registering for a more intensive program that provides strategies for smoking cessation centred around a self-defined quit date. Participants in the smoking cessation only intervention group will only receive components (3) and (4). Study participants will be 1350 students who smoke tobacco daily/occasionally, from vocational schools in Switzerland. Main outcome criteria are 7-day point prevalence smoking abstinence and cigarette consumption assessed at the 6-month follow up.
This is the first study testing a fully automated intervention for smoking cessation that simultaneously addresses alcohol use and interrelations between tobacco and alcohol use. The integrated intervention can be easily implemented in various settings and could be used with large groups of young people in a cost-effective way.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN02427446 (date of registration: 08th September, 2014).
PMCID: PMC4228117  PMID: 25369857
Tobacco; Smoking cessation; Alcohol; Young people; Internet; Mobile phone
7.  The Effectiveness of Mobile-Health Technology-Based Health Behaviour Change or Disease Management Interventions for Health Care Consumers: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(1):e1001362.
Caroline Free and colleagues systematically review a fast-moving field, that of the effectiveness of mobile technology interventions delivered to healthcare consumers, and conclude that high-quality, adequately powered trials of optimized interventions are required to evaluate effects on objective outcomes.
Mobile technologies could be a powerful media for providing individual level support to health care consumers. We conducted a systematic review to assess the effectiveness of mobile technology interventions delivered to health care consumers.
Methods and Findings
We searched for all controlled trials of mobile technology-based health interventions delivered to health care consumers using MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, Global Health, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, UK NHS HTA (Jan 1990–Sept 2010). Two authors extracted data on allocation concealment, allocation sequence, blinding, completeness of follow-up, and measures of effect. We calculated effect estimates and used random effects meta-analysis. We identified 75 trials. Fifty-nine trials investigated the use of mobile technologies to improve disease management and 26 trials investigated their use to change health behaviours. Nearly all trials were conducted in high-income countries. Four trials had a low risk of bias. Two trials of disease management had low risk of bias; in one, antiretroviral (ART) adherence, use of text messages reduced high viral load (>400 copies), with a relative risk (RR) of 0.85 (95% CI 0.72–0.99), but no statistically significant benefit on mortality (RR 0.79 [95% CI 0.47–1.32]). In a second, a PDA based intervention increased scores for perceived self care agency in lung transplant patients. Two trials of health behaviour management had low risk of bias. The pooled effect of text messaging smoking cessation support on biochemically verified smoking cessation was (RR 2.16 [95% CI 1.77–2.62]). Interventions for other conditions showed suggestive benefits in some cases, but the results were not consistent. No evidence of publication bias was demonstrated on visual or statistical examination of the funnel plots for either disease management or health behaviours. To address the limitation of the older search, we also reviewed more recent literature.
Text messaging interventions increased adherence to ART and smoking cessation and should be considered for inclusion in services. Although there is suggestive evidence of benefit in some other areas, high quality adequately powered trials of optimised interventions are required to evaluate effects on objective outcomes.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors’ Summary
Every year, millions of people die from cardiovascular diseases (diseases of the heart and circulation), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (a long-term lung disease), lung cancer, HIV infection, and diabetes. These diseases are increasingly important causes of mortality (death) in low- and middle-income countries and are responsible for nearly 40% of deaths in high-income countries. For all these diseases, individuals can adopt healthy behaviors that help prevent disease onset. For example, people can lower their risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease by maintaining a healthy body weight, and, if they are smokers, they can reduce their risk of lung cancer and cardiovascular disease by giving up cigarettes. In addition, optimal treatment of existing diseases can reduce mortality and morbidity (illness). Thus, in people who are infected with HIV, antiretroviral therapy delays the progression of HIV infection and the onset of AIDS, and in people who have diabetes, good blood sugar control can prevent retinopathy (a type of blindness) and other serious complications of diabetes.
Why Was This Study Done?
Health-care providers need effective ways to encourage "health-care consumers" to make healthy lifestyle choices and to self-manage chronic diseases. The amount of information, encouragement and support that can be conveyed to individuals during face-to-face consultations or through traditional media such as leaflets is limited, but mobile technologies such as mobile phones and portable computers have the potential to transform the delivery of health messages. These increasingly popular technologies—more than two-thirds of the world's population now owns a mobile phone—can be used to deliver health messages to people anywhere and at the most relevant times. For example, smokers trying to quit smoking can be sent regular text messages to sustain their motivation, but can also use text messaging to request extra support when it is needed. But is "mHealth," the provision of health-related services using mobile communication technology, an effective way to deliver health messages to health-care consumers? In this systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic), the researchers assess the effectiveness of mobile technology-based health behavior change interventions and disease management interventions delivered to health-care consumers.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 75 controlled trials (studies that compare the outcomes of people who do and do not receive an intervention) of mobile technology-based health interventions delivered to health-care consumers that met their predefined criteria. Twenty-six trials investigated the use of mobile technologies to change health behaviors, 59 investigated their use in disease management, most were of low quality, and nearly all were undertaken in high-income countries. In one high-quality trial that used text messages to improve adherence to antiretroviral therapy among HIV-positive patients in Kenya, the intervention significantly reduced the patients’ viral load but did not significantly reduce mortality (the observed reduction in deaths may have happened by chance). In two high-quality UK trials, a smoking intervention based on text messaging (txt2stop) more than doubled biochemically verified smoking cessation. Other lower-quality trials indicated that using text messages to encourage physical activity improved diabetes control but had no effect on body weight. Combined diet and physical activity text messaging interventions also had no effect on weight, whereas interventions for other conditions showed suggestive benefits in some but not all cases.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide mixed evidence for the effectiveness of health intervention delivery to health-care consumers using mobile technologies. Moreover, they highlight the need for additional high-quality controlled trials of this mHealth application, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. Specifically, the demonstration that text messaging interventions increased adherence to antiretroviral therapy in a low-income setting and increased smoking cessation in a high-income setting provides some support for the inclusion of these two interventions in health-care services in similar settings. However, the effects of these two interventions need to be established in other settings and their cost-effectiveness needs to be measured before they are widely implemented. Finally, for other mobile technology–based interventions designed to change health behaviors or to improve self-management of chronic diseases, the results of this systematic review suggest that the interventions need to be optimized before further trials are undertaken to establish their clinical benefits.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
A related PLOS Medicine Research Article by Free et al. investigates the ability of mHealth technologies to improve health-care service delivery processes
Wikipedia has a page on mHealth (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
mHealth: New horizons for health through mobile technologies is a global survey of mHealth prepared by the World Health Organization’s Global Observatory for eHealth (eHealth is health-care practice supported by electronic processes and communication)
The mHealth in Low-Resource Settings website, which is maintained by the Netherlands Royal Tropical Institute, provides information on the current use, potential, and limitations of mHealth in low-resource settings
More information about Txt2stop is available, the UK National Health Service Choices website provides an analysis of the Txt2stop trial and what its results mean, and the UK National Health Service Smokefree website provides a link to a Quit App for the iPhone
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has launched a text messaging service that delivers regular health tips and alerts to mobile phones
PMCID: PMC3548655  PMID: 23349621
8.  A Multimedia Mobile Phone–Based Youth Smoking Cessation Intervention: Findings From Content Development and Piloting Studies 
While most young people who smoke want to quit, few access cessation support services. Mobile phone–based cessation programs are ideal for young people: mobile phones are the most common means of peer communication, and messages can be delivered in an anonymous manner, anywhere, anytime. Following the success of our text messaging smoking cessation program, we developed an innovative multimedia mobile phone smoking cessation intervention.
The aim of the study was to develop and pilot test a youth-oriented multimedia smoking cessation intervention delivered solely by mobile phone.
Development included creating content and building the technology platform. Content development was overseen by an expert group who advised on youth development principles, observational learning (from social cognitive theory), effective smoking cessation interventions, and social marketing. Young people participated in three content development phases (consultation via focus groups and an online survey, content pre-testing, and selection of role models). Video and text messages were then developed, incorporating the findings from this research. Information technology systems were established to support the delivery of the multimedia messages by mobile phone. A pilot study using an abbreviated 4-week program of video and text content tested the reliability of the systems and the acceptability of the intervention.
Approximately 180 young people participated in the consultation phase. There was a high priority placed on music for relaxation (75%) and an interest in interacting with others in the program (40% would read messages, 36% would read a blog). Findings from the pre-testing phase (n = 41) included the importance of selecting “real” and “honest” role models with believable stories, and an interest in animations (37%). Of the 15 participants who took part in the pilot study, 13 (87%) were available for follow-up interviews at 4 weeks: 12 participants liked the program or liked it most of the time and found the role model to be believable; 7 liked the role model video messages (5 were unsure); 8 used the extra assistance for cravings; and 9 were happy with two messages per day. Nine participants (60%) stopped smoking during the program. Some technical challenges were encountered during the pilot study.
A multimedia mobile phone smoking cessation program is technically feasible, and the content developed is appropriate for this medium and is acceptable to our target population. These results have informed the design of a 6-month intervention currently being evaluated for its effectiveness in increasing smoking cessation rates in young people.
PMCID: PMC2630843  PMID: 19033148
Smoking cessation; cellular phone; learning
9.  A Pre-Post Study on the Appropriateness and Effectiveness of a Web- and Text Messaging-Based Intervention to Reduce Problem Drinking in Emerging Adults 
Problem drinking, particularly risky single-occasion drinking (RSOD), also called “binge drinking”, is widespread among adolescents and young adults in most Western countries. Few studies have tested the effectiveness of interventions to reduce RSOD in young people with heterogeneous and particularly lower educational background.
To test the appropriateness and initial effectiveness of a combined, individually tailored Web- and text messaging (SMS)–based intervention program to reduce problem drinking in vocational school students.
The fully automated program provided: (1) online feedback about an individual’s drinking pattern compared to the drinking norms of an age- and gender-specific reference group, and (2) recurrent individualized SMS messages over a time period of 3 months. Generalized Estimating Equation (GEE) analyses were used to investigate the longitudinal courses of the following outcomes over the study period of 3 months: RSOD, alcohol-related problems, mean number of standard drinks per week, and maximum number of standard drinks on an occasion.
The program was tested in 36 school classes at 7 vocational schools in Switzerland. Regardless of their drinking behavior, 477 vocational school students who owned a mobile phone were invited to participate in the program. Of these, 364 (76.3%) participated in the program. During the intervention period, 23 out of 364 (6.3%) persons unsubscribed from participating in the program. The GEE analyses revealed decreases in the percentage of persons with RSOD from baseline (75.5%, 210/278) to follow-up assessment (67.6%, 188/278, P<.001), in the percentage of persons with alcohol-related problems (20.4%, 57/280 to 14.3%, 40/280, P=.009), and in the mean number of standard drinks per week: 13.4 (SD 15.3) to 11.3 (SD 14.0), P=.002. They also revealed a trend toward a decrease in the mean of the maximum number of drinks consumed on an occasion: 11.3 (SD 10.3) to 10.5 (SD 10.3), P=.08.
The results show high acceptance and promising effectiveness of this interventional approach, which could be easily and economically implemented within school classes.
PMCID: PMC3785975  PMID: 23999406
alcohol intervention; problem drinking; young people; text messaging; Internet
10.  The feasibility, patterns of use and acceptability of using mobile phone text-messaging to improve treatment adherence and post-treatment review of children with uncomplicated malaria in western Kenya 
Malaria Journal  2014;13:44.
Trials evaluating the impact of mobile phone text-messaging to support management of acute diseases, such as malaria, are urgently needed in Africa. There has been however a concern about the feasibility of interventions that rely on access to mobile phones among caregivers in rural areas. To assess the feasibility and inform development of an intervention to improve adherence to malaria medications and post-treatment review, mobile phone network, access, ownership and use among caregivers in western Kenya was assessed.
A cross-sectional survey based on outpatient exit interviews was undertaken among caregivers of children with malaria at four trial facilities. The main outcomes were proportions of caregivers that have mobile signal at home; have access to mobile phones; are able to read; and use text-messaging. Willingness to receive text-message reminders was also explored. Descriptive analyses were performed.
Of 400 interviewed caregivers, the majority were female (93.5%), mothers of the sick children (87.8%) and able to read (97.3%). Only 1.7% of caregivers were without any education. Nearly all (99.8%) reported access to a mobile signal at home. 93.0% (site range: 89-98%) had access to a mobile phone within their household while 73.8% (site range: 66-78%) possessed a personal phone. Among caregivers with mobile phone access, 93.6% (site range: 85-99%) used the phone to receive text-messages. Despite only 19% having electricity at home nearly all (99.7%) caregivers reported that they would be able to have permanent phone access to receive text-messages in the next 28 days. Willingness to receive text-message reminders was nearly universal (99.7%) with 41.7% of caregivers preferring texts in English, 32.3% in Kiswahili and 26.1% in Dholuo.
Despite concerns that the feasibility of text-messaging interventions targeting caregivers may be compromised in rural high malaria risk areas in Kenya, very favourable conditions were found with respect to mobile network, access and ownership of phones, use of text-messaging and minimum literacy levels required for successful intervention delivery. Moreover, there was a high willingness of caregivers to receive text-message reminders. Impact evaluations of carefully tailored text-messaging interventions targeting caregivers of children with malaria are timely and justified.
PMCID: PMC3922741  PMID: 24490872
11.  A Text Message–Based Intervention for Weight Loss: Randomized Controlled Trial 
To our knowledge, no studies have evaluated whether weight loss can be promoted in overweight adults through the use of an intervention that is largely based on daily SMS (Short Message Service: text) and MMS (Multimedia Message Service: small picture) messages transmitted via mobile phones.
This paper describes the development and evaluation of a text message–based intervention designed to help individuals lose or maintain weight over 4 months.
The study was a randomized controlled trial, with participants being exposed to one of the following two conditions, lasting 16 weeks: (1) receipt of monthly printed materials about weight control; (2) an intervention that included personalized SMS and MMS messages sent two to five times daily, printed materials, and brief monthly phone calls from a health counselor. The primary outcome was weight at the end of the intervention. A mixed-model repeated-measures analysis compared the effect of the intervention group to the comparison group on weight status over the 4-month intervention period. Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) models examined weight change between baseline and 4 months after adjusting for baseline weight, sex, and age.
A total of 75 overweight men and women were randomized into one of the two groups, and 65 signed the consent form, completed the baseline questionnaire, and were included in the analysis. At the end of 4 months, the intervention group (n = 33) lost more weight than the comparison group (−1.97 kg difference, 95% CI −0.34 to −3.60 kg, P = .02) after adjusting for sex and age. Intervention participants’ adjusted average weight loss was 2.88 kg (3.16%). At the end of the study, 22 of 24 (92%) intervention participants stated that they would recommend the intervention for weight control to friends and family.
Text messages might prove to be a productive channel of communication to promote behaviors that support weight loss in overweight adults.
Trial Registration NCT00415870; (Archived by WebCite at
PMCID: PMC2729073  PMID: 19141433
Mobile phone; obesity; SMS; text message; health behavior
12.  A study to assess the feasibility of Text Messaging Service in delivering maternal and child healthcare messages in a rural area of Tamil Nadu, India 
The Australasian Medical Journal  2014;7(4):175-180.
Mobile text messaging is a potentially powerful tool for behaviour change because it is widely available, inexpensive, and instant.
To evaluate whether mobile Text Messaging Service is a feasible mode of raising knowledge regarding maternal and child health (MCH) and to explore issues related to mobile text messages as a mode of health education.
A community-based intervention study was conducted from January to June 2013 in six randomly selected villages of Vellore district, Tamil Nadu. A multi-stage sampling technique was followed: 120 individuals from 120 households (30 clusters in six villages) were contacted. Data was collected using a pretested questionnaire by house-to-house visits in three phases: 1) baseline assessment of aptitude towards text messages; 2) intervention: sending MCH-related text messages; and 3) end-line assessment to evaluate the increase in knowledge level. Qualitative data regarding mobile text messages as a mode of health education was explored. Quantitative data was analysed using SPSS version 17.0 and qualitative data by Anthropac software.
Of the individuals surveyed, 69.17 per cent and 52.5 per cent were “able to read” and “type and send” text messages, respectively. Seventy per cent of individuals were willing to receive health information via text messages, and 98.33 per cent believed text messages could effectively spread health messages. A significant increase in knowledge was observed following text messages. Male gender and subjects’ ability to read text messages were significantly associated. Factors related to mobile phone use include minimum economic burden, easy availability, portability, and ease of use. Factors related to mobile text messages as a mode of health message delivery include direct receipt of information, mass reach, the absence of regional language font in many handsets, and illiterate individuals being unable to read messages.
In rural areas, mobile text messages have the potential to deliver health messages regarding MCH.
PMCID: PMC4009878  PMID: 24817911
Health education; maternal and child health; text messages
13.  Patients’ Engagement With “Sweet Talk” – A Text Messaging Support System for Young People With Diabetes 
Guidelines for optimizing type 1 diabetes in young people advocate intensive insulin therapy coupled with personal support from the health care team. “Sweet Talk” is a novel intervention designed to support patients between clinic visits using text messages sent to a mobile phone. Scheduled messages are tailored to patient profiles and diabetes self-management goals, and generic messages include topical “newsletters” and anonymized tips from other participants. The system also allows patients to submit data and questions to the diabetes care team.
The aim was to explore how patients with type 1 diabetes interact with the Sweet Talk system in order to understand its utility to this user group.
Subjects were 64 young people with diabetes who were participating in the intervention arms of a randomized controlled trial. All text messages submitted to Sweet Talk during a 12-month period were recorded. Messaging patterns and content were analyzed using mixed quantitative and qualitative methods.
Patients submitted 1180 messages during the observation period (mean 18.4, median 6). Messaging frequency ranged widely between participants (0-240) with a subset of 5 high users contributing 52% of the total. Patients’ clinical and sociodemographic characteristics were not associated with total messaging frequency, although girls sent significantly more messages unrelated to diabetes than did boys (P = .002). The content of patients’ messages fell into 8 main categories: blood glucose readings, diabetes questions, diabetes information, personal health administration, social messages, technical messages, message errors, and message responses. Unprompted submission of blood glucose values was the most frequent incoming message type (35% of total). Responses to requests for personal experiences and tips generated 40% of all the incoming messages, while topical news items also generated good responses. Patients also used the service to ask questions, submit information about their self-management, and order supplies. No patients nominated supporters to receive text messages about their self-management goals. Another option that was not used was the birthday reminder service.
Automated, scheduled text messaging successfully engaged young people with diabetes. While the system was primarily designed to provide “push” support to patients, submission of clinical data and queries illustrates that it was seen as a trusted medium for communicating with care providers. Responses to the newsletters and submission of personal experiences and tips for circulation to other participants also illustrate the potential value of such interventions for establishing a sense of community. Although participants submitted relatively few messages, positive responses to the system suggest that most derived passive support from reading the messages. The Sweet Talk system could be readily adapted to suit other chronic disease models and age groups, and the results of this study may help to inform the design of future text message support interventions.
PMCID: PMC2483928  PMID: 18653444
Diabetes mellitus; adolescent; eHealth; social support; text messaging
14.  Design and rationale of the tobacco, exercise and diet messages (TEXT ME) trial of a text message-based intervention for ongoing prevention of cardiovascular disease in people with coronary disease: a randomised controlled trial protocol 
BMJ Open  2012;2(1):e000606.
Although supporting lifestyle change is an effective way of preventing further events in people with cardiovascular disease, providing access to such interventions is a major challenge. This study aims to investigate whether simple reminders about behaviour change sent via mobile phone text message decrease cardiovascular risk.
Methods and analysis
Randomised controlled trial with 6 months of follow-up to evaluate the feasibility, acceptability and effect on cardiovascular risk of repeated lifestyle reminders sent via mobile phone text messages compared to usual care. A total of 720 patients with coronary artery disease will be randomised to either standard care or the TEXT ME intervention. The intervention group will receive multiple weekly text messages that provide information, motivation, support to quit smoking (if relevant) and recommendations for healthy diets and exercise. The primary end point is a change in plasma low-density lipoprotein cholesterol at 6 months. Secondary end points include a change in systolic blood pressure, smoking status, quality of life, medication adherence, waist circumference, physical activity levels, nutritional status and mood at 6 months. Process outcomes related to acceptability and feasibility of TEXT ME will also be collected.
Ethics and dissemination
Primary ethics approval was received from Western Sydney Local Health Network Human Research Ethics Committee—Westmead. Results will be disseminated via the usual scientific forums including peer-reviewed publications and presentations at international conferences.
Clinical trials registration number
Article summary
Article focus
The article provides the rationale and protocol for a randomised controlled trial to test the efficacy of mobile phone text message reminders to promote behaviour change and reduce cardiac risk in patients with coronary heart disease.
Key messages
Mobile phone text messages may potentially be a cheap, safe and simple way to promote healthy behaviour, improve mood and increase compliance with cardiac medication. This in turn would reduce cardiovascular risk. The effectiveness of this approach needs to be tested in well-designed and rigorously conducted clinical trials.
Strengths and limitations of this study
The main strengths of the current study are that it uses a simple and inexpensive text message-based programme that is suitable for widespread use and will test this strategy in a randomised, controlled and blinded study. The study is, however, being conducted in only Australian tertiary centres and, therefore, the generalisability is somewhat limited, although the cohort size is relatively large.
PMCID: PMC3263439  PMID: 22267690
15.  Acceptability of Delivering and Accessing Health Information Through Text Messaging Among Community Health Advisors 
JMIR mHealth and uHealth  2013;1(2):e22.
Communication technologies can play a significant role in decreasing communication inequalities and cancer disparities by promoting cancer control and enhancing population and individual health. Studies have shown that technology, such as the mobile phone short message service (SMS) or text messaging, can be an effective health communication strategy that influences individuals’ health-related decisions, behaviors, and outcomes.
The purpose of this study was to explore usage of communication technologies, assess the acceptability of mobile technology for delivery and access of health information, and identify cancer and health information needs among Deep South Network for Cancer Control trained Community Health Advisors as Research Partners (CHARPs).
A mixed-method design was used, and a triangulation protocol was followed to combine quantitative and qualitative data. Focus groups (4 focus groups; n=37) and self-administered surveys (n=77) were conducted to determine CHARPs mobile phone and text message usage. The objective was to include identification of barriers and facilitators to a mobile phone intervention.
All participants were African American (37/37, 100%), 11/37 (89%) were women, and the mean age was 53.4 (SD 13.9; focus groups) and 59.9 (SD 8.7; survey). Nearly all (33/37, 89%) of focus group participants reported owning a mobile phone. Of those, 8/33 (24%) owned a smartphone, 22/33 (67%) had a text messaging plan, and 18/33 (55%) and 11/33 (33%) received and sent text messages several times a week or day, respectively. Similar responses were seen among the survey participants, with 75/77 (97%) reporting owning a mobile phone, and of those, 22/75 (30%) owned a smartphone, 39/75 (53%) had a text messaging plan, and 37/75 (50%) received and 27/75 (37%) sent text messages several times a week or day. The benefits of a text messaging system mentioned by focus group participants included alternative form of communication, quick method for disseminating information, and privacy of communication. The main barriers reported by both groups to using mobile technology to receive health information were cost and not knowing how to text message. Ways to overcome barriers were explored with focus group participants, and education was the most proposed solution. Majority of CHARPs were in favor of receiving a weekly text message that would provide cancer/health information.
The findings from this study indicate that CHARPs are receptive to receiving text messages focusing on cancer/health information and would be likely to engage in mobile health research. These findings represent the first step in the development of an interactive mobile health program designed to provide cancer/health information and a support network for the Deep South Network Community Health Advisors as Research Partners (DSN CHARPs).
PMCID: PMC4114512  PMID: 25099140
community health workers; mobile health; text messaging; cancer
16. Mobile Telephone Text Messages to Encourage Adherence to Medication and to Follow up With People With Psychosis: Methods and Protocol for a Multicenter Randomized Controlled Two-Armed Trial 
JMIR Research Protocols  2012;1(2):e8.
Schizophrenia is a high-cost, chronic, serious mental illness. There is a clear need to improve treatments and expand access to care for persons with schizophrenia, but simple, tailored interventions are missing.
To evaluate the impact of tailored mobile telephone text messages to encourage adherence to medication and to follow up with people with psychosis at 12 months.
Mobile.Net is a pragmatic randomized trial with inpatient psychiatric wards allocated to two parallel arms. The trial will include 24 sites and 45 psychiatric hospital wards providing inpatient care in Finland. The participants will be adult patients aged 18–65 years, of either sex, with antipsychotic medication (Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical classification 2011) on discharge from a psychiatric hospital, who have a mobile phone, are able to use the Finnish language, and are able to give written informed consent to participate in the study. The intervention group will receive semiautomatic system (short message service [SMS]) messages after they have been discharged from the psychiatric hospital. Patients will choose the form, content, timing, and frequency of the SMS messages related to their medication, keeping appointments, and other daily care. SMS messages will continue to the end of the study period (12 months) or until participants no longer want to receive the messages. Patients will be encouraged to contact researchers if they feel that they need to adjust the message in any way. At all times, both groups will receive usual care at the discretion of their team (psychiatry and nursing). The primary outcomes are service use and healthy days by 12 months based on routine data (admission to a psychiatric hospital, time to next hospitalization, time in hospital during this year, and healthy days). The secondary outcomes are service use, coercive measures, medication, adverse events, satisfaction with care, the intervention, and the trial, social functioning, and economic factors. Data will be collected 12 months after baseline. The outcomes are based on the national health registers and patients’ subjective evaluations. The primary analysis will be by intention-to-treat.
Trial Registration
International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number (ISRCTN): 27704027; (Archived by WebCite at
PMCID: PMC3626156  PMID: 23611874
Adherence; text messages; psychosis
17.  Text Messaging to Improve Hypertension Medication Adherence in African Americans: BPMED Intervention Development and Study Protocol 
JMIR Research Protocols  2015;4(1):e1.
Hypertension (HTN) is a major public health concern in the United States, with almost 78 million Americans age 20 years and over suffering from the condition. Moreover, HTN is a key risk factor for health disease and stroke. African Americans disproportionately shoulder the burdens of HTN, with greater prevalence, disease severity, earlier onset, and more HTN-related complications than age-matched whites. Medication adherence for the treatment of HTN is poor, with estimates indicating that only about half of hypertensive patients are adherent to prescribed medication regimens. Although no single intervention for improving medication adherence has emerged as superior to others, text message medication reminders have the potential to help improve medication adherence in African Americans with uncontrolled HTN as mobile phone adoption is very high in this population.
The purpose of this two-phased study was to develop (Phase I) and test in a randomized controlled trial (RCT) (Phase II) a text message system, BPMED, to improve the quality of medication management through increasing medication adherence in African Americans with uncontrolled HTN.
In Phase I, we recruited 16 target end-users from a primary care clinic, to assist in the development of BPMED through participating in one of three focus groups. Focus groups sought to gain patient perspectives on HTN, medication adherence, mobile phone use, and the use of text messaging to support medication adherence. Potential intervention designs were presented to participants, and feedback on the designs was solicited. In Phase II, we conducted two pilot RCTs to determine the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of BPMED in primary care and emergency department settings. Both pilot studies recruited approximately 60 participants, who were randomized equally between usual care and the BPMED intervention.
Although data collection is now complete, data analysis from the two pilot RCTs is still ongoing and results are expected in 2015.
This study was designed to determine preliminary feasibility and acceptability of our approach among African Americans with uncontrolled HTN in primary care and emergency department settings. Results from these studies are of great interest as little work has been done to document the use of text message medication reminders to improve HTN-related outcomes, particularly within underserved urban minorities.
Trial Registration NCT01465217; (Archived by WebCite at
PMCID: PMC4296103  PMID: 25565680
mobile phone; text messaging; hypertension; blood pressure; African Americans; medication adherence; mobile health
18.  Pilot evaluation of the text4baby mobile health program 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:1031.
Mobile phone technologies for health promotion and disease prevention have evolved rapidly, but few studies have tested the efficacy of mobile health in full-fledged programs. Text4baby is an example of mobile health based on behavioral theory, and it delivers text messages to traditionally underserved pregnant women and new mothers to change their health, health care beliefs, practices, and behaviors in order to improve clinical outcomes. The purpose of this pilot evaluation study is to assess the efficacy of this text messaging campaign.
We conducted a randomized pilot evaluation study. All participants were pregnant women first presenting for care at the Fairfax County, Virginia Health Department. We randomized participants to enroll in text4baby and receive usual health care (intervention), or continue simply to receive usual care (control). We then conducted a 24-item survey by telephone of attitudes and behaviors related to text4baby. We surveyed participants at baseline, before text4baby was delivered to the intervention group, and at follow-up at approximately 28 weeks of baby’s gestational age.
We completed 123 baseline interviews in English and in Spanish. Overall, the sample was predominantly of Hispanic origin (79.7%) with an average age of 27.6 years. We completed 90 follow-up interviews, and achieved a 73% retention rate. We used a logistic generalized estimating equation model to evaluate intervention effects on measured outcomes. We found a significant effect of text4baby intervention exposure on increased agreement with the attitude statement “I am prepared to be a new mother” (OR = 2.73, CI = 1.04, 7.18, p = 0.042) between baseline and follow-up. For those who had attained a high school education or greater, we observed a significantly higher overall agreement to attitudes against alcohol consumption during pregnancy (OR = 2.80, CI = 1.13, 6.90, p = 0.026). We also observed a significant improvement of attitudes toward alcohol consumption from baseline to follow-up (OR = 3.57, CI = 1.13 – 11.24, p = 0.029).
This pilot study is the first randomized evaluation of text4baby. It is a promising program in that exposure to the text messages was associated with changes in specific beliefs targeted by the messages.
PMCID: PMC3570294  PMID: 23181985
Text4baby; Pregnancy; Pre-natal health care; Mobile health; Health behavior
19.  Text messaging: an innovative method of data collection in medical research 
BMC Research Notes  2010;3:342.
The ubiquitous use of mobile phones in sending and receiving text messages has become a norm for young people. Undeniably, text messaging has become a new and important communication medium not only in the social realm but in education as well. The aim of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of using text messaging as a means to collect data for a medical research project.
A cross sectional study was carried out during a double blind, randomized controlled trial to assess the efficacy and safety of a probiotic in the management of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). The study aim was to assess the response rate of weekly symptom reports via Short Message Service (SMS). The subjects were undergraduates in a private medical university in Malaysia. They were identified through a previous university wide study as suffering from IBS based on Rome III criteria. The subjects were randomly assigned to either the treatment arm receiving a daily probiotic, or the placebo arm. They were required to score their symptoms using eight-item-questionnaires at baseline, and thereafter weekly, for a total of 8 weeks. All subjects were given the choice to communicate their symptom scores by text messaging via mobile phones or by email. SMS text messages were sent to remind trial subjects to attend face-to-face visits and to complete a paper based 34-item-questionnaires on IBS quality of life assessment at baseline and at end of 8 weeks.
The response rate of weekly symptom scores via Short Message Service (SMS) from a total of 38 subjects was 100%. Through the study, 342 reports were submitted: 33.3% of these were received on the due date without reminder, 60.0% one day after the deadline, after a single reminder, 6.1% 2-3 days after the deadline, after 2-3 reminders and 0.6% 5 days after the deadline, after SMS, phone reminder and face-to-face encounter. All SMS symptom reports, whether on time or late, were complete. With the help of SMS reminder, all trial subjects completed the paper based IBS quality of life assessment at baseline and at end of study.
This study found using text messaging via mobile phone an excellent instrument for collecting weekly symptom reports in response to trial medication, reminding trial subjects to attend face to face visits and completing more complex paper based evaluation. The 100% response rate of weekly symptom reports was facilitated by using simple number codes for SMS submission.
Trial Registration
Not appropriate.
PMCID: PMC3022815  PMID: 21172018
20.  What's in a message? Delivering sexual health promotion to young people in Australia via text messaging 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:792.
Advances in communication technologies have dramatically changed how individuals access information and communicate. Recent studies have found that mobile phone text messages (SMS) can be used successfully for short-term behaviour change. However there is no published information examining the acceptability, utility and efficacy of different characteristics of health promotion SMS. This paper presents the results of evaluation focus groups among participants who received twelve sexual health related SMS as part of a study examining the impact of text messaging for sexual health promotion to on young people in Victoria, Australia.
Eight gender-segregated focus groups were held with 21 males and 22 females in August 2008. Transcripts of audio recordings were analysed using thematic analysis. Data were coded under one or more themes.
Text messages were viewed as an acceptable and 'personal' means of health promotion, with participants particularly valuing the informal language. There was a preference for messages that were positive, relevant and short and for messages to cover a variety of topics. Participants were more likely to remember and share messages that were funny, rhymed and/or tied into particular annual events. The message broadcasting, generally fortnightly on Friday afternoons, was viewed as appropriate. Participants said the messages provided new information, a reminder of existing information and reduced apprehension about testing for sexually transmitted infections.
Mobile phones, in particular SMS, offer health promoters an exciting opportunity to engage personally with a huge number of individuals for low cost. The key elements emerging from this evaluation, such as message style, language and broadcast schedule are directly relevant to future studies using SMS for health promotion, as well as for future health promotion interventions in other mediums that require short formats, such as social networking sites.
PMCID: PMC3022861  PMID: 21190584
21.  Large and forgotten in rural Australia: assessment, attitudes and possible approaches to losing weight in young adult males 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:243.
Young Adult Males (YAMs) in rural Australia are poorly studied with respect to overweight and obesity. Firstly, we explored the feasibility of recruiting 17–25 year old YAMs to obtain baseline data on overweight and obesity rates, socio-demographics, nutrition, exercise and mobile phone usage. Secondly, we explored the views of YAMs with a waist measurement over 94 cm about using mobile phone text messages to promote weight loss and incentives to promote healthy lifestyles.
A two-staged, mixed-methods approach was used to study obesity and overweight issues in Dubbo, a regional city in New South Wales, Australia. In Phase I, socio-demographic, health behaviour and mobile phone usage data were collected using a questionnaire and anthropometric data collected by direct measurement. In Phase II, YAMs’ views were explored by focus group discussion using a semi-structured questionnaire.
Phase I (145 participants): mean Body Mass Index (BMI) 25.06 ± 5.01; mean waist circumference 87.4 ± 15.4 cm. In total, 39.3% were obese (12.4%) or overweight (26.9%) and 24.1% had an increased risk of metabolic complications associated with obesity. 135 (93.1%) owned a mobile phone and sent on average 17 ± 25 text messages per day and received 18 ± 24.
Phase II (30 participants): YAMs acknowledged that overweight and obesity was a growing societal concern with many health related implications, but didn’t feel this was something that affected them personally at this stage of their lives. Motivation was therefore an issue. YAMs admitted that they would only be concerned about losing weight if something drastic occurred in their lives. Text messages would encourage and motivate them to adopt a healthy lifestyle if they were individually tailored. Gym memberships, not cash payments, seem to be the most favoured incentive.
There is a clear need for an effective health promotion strategy for the almost 40% overweight or obese Dubbo YAMs. The high rate of text message usage makes it feasible to recruit YAMs for a prospective study in which personalized text messages are used to promote healthy behaviours. It may be important to target motivation specifically in any weight-related intervention in this group with incentives such as gym membership vouchers.
PMCID: PMC4008138  PMID: 24612872
Male; Overweight; Obesity; Weight loss; Rural health; Quantitative and qualitative research; Incentives; Text messaging; SMS
22.  Exploring the use of mobile phone technology for the enhancement of the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV program in Nyanza, Kenya: a qualitative study 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:1131.
Community-based mobile phone programs can complement gaps in clinical services for prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV in areas with poor infrastructure and personnel shortages. However, community and health worker perceptions on optimal mobile phone communication for PMTCT are underexplored. This study examined what specific content and forms of mobile communication are acceptable to support PMTCT.
Qualitative methods using focus groups and in-depth interviews were conducted in two district hospitals in Nyanza Province, Kenya. A total of 45 participants were purposefully selected, including HIV-positive women enrolled in PMTCT, their male partners, community health workers, and nurses. Semi-structured discussion guides were used to elicit participants’ current mobile phone uses for PMTCT and their perceived benefits and challenges. We also examined participants’ views on platform design and gender-tailored short message service (SMS) messages designed to improve PMTCT communication and male involvement.
Most participants had access to a mobile phone and prior experience receiving and sending SMS, although phone sharing was common among couples. Mobile phones were used for several health-related purposes, primarily as voice calls rather than texts. The perceived benefits of mobile phones for PMTCT included linking with health workers, protecting confidentiality, and receiving information and reminders. Men and women considered the gender-tailored SMS as a catalyst for improving PMTCT male involvement and couples’ communication. However, informative messaging relayed safely to the intended recipient was critical. In addition, health workers emphasized the continual need for in-person counseling coupled with, rather than replaced by, mobile phone reinforcement. For all participants, integrated and neutral text messaging provided antenatally and postnatally was most preferred, although not all topics or text formats were equally acceptable.
Given the ubiquity of mobile phones in Kenya and current health-related uses of mobile phones, a PMTCT mobile communications platform holds considerable potential. This pre-intervention assessment of community and health worker preferences yielded valuable information on the complexities of design and implementation. An effective PMTCT mobile platform engaging men and women will need to address contexts of non-disclosure, phone sharing, and linkages with existing community and facility-based services.
PMCID: PMC4234194  PMID: 24308409
Mobile phone; mHealth; Short message service; SMS; HIV; Prevention of mother-to-child transmission; PMTCT; Male involvement
23.  Efficacy of a text messaging (SMS) based intervention for adults with hypertension: protocol for the StAR (SMS Text-message Adherence suppoRt trial) randomised controlled trial 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:28.
Interventions to support people with hypertension in attending clinics and taking their medication have potential to improve outcomes, but delivery on a wide scale and at low cost is challenging. Some trials evaluating clinical interventions using short message service (SMS) text-messaging systems have shown important outcomes, although evidence is limited. We have developed a novel SMS system integrated with clinical care for use by people with hypertension in a low-resource setting. We aim to test the efficacy of the system in improving blood pressure control and treatment adherence compared to usual care.
The SMS Text-message Adherence suppoRt trial (StAR) is a pragmatic individually randomised three-arm parallel group trial in adults treated for hypertension at a single primary care centre in Cape Town, South Africa. The intervention is a structured programme of clinic appointment, medication pick-up reminders, medication adherence support and hypertension-related education delivered remotely using an automated system with either informational or interactive SMS text-messages. Usual care is supplemented by infrequent non-hypertension related SMS text-messages. Participants are 1:1:1 individually randomised, to usual care or to one of the two active interventions using minimisation to dynamically adjust for gender, age, baseline systolic blood pressure, years with hypertension, and previous clinic attendance. The primary outcome is the change in mean systolic blood pressure at 12-month follow-up from baseline measured with research staff blinded to trial allocation. Secondary outcomes include the proportion of patients with 80% or more of days medication available, proportion of participants achieving a systolic blood pressure less than 140 mmHg and a diastolic blood pressure less than 90 mmHg, hospital admissions, health status, retention in clinical care, satisfaction with treatment and care, and patient related quality of life. Anonymised demographic data are collected on non-participants.
The StAR trial uses a novel, low cost system based on widely available mobile phone technology to deliver the SMS-based intervention, manage communication with patients, and measure clinically relevant outcomes. The results will inform implementation and wider use of mobile phone based interventions for health care delivery in a low-resource setting.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC3909351  PMID: 24410738
24.  A Text Messaging Intervention to Improve Heart Failure Self-Management After Hospital Discharge in a Largely African-American Population: Before-After Study 
There is increasing interest in finding novel approaches to reduce health disparities in readmissions for acute decompensated heart failure (ADHF). Text messaging is a promising platform for improving chronic disease self-management in low-income populations, yet is largely unexplored in ADHF.
The purpose of this pre-post study was to assess the feasibility and acceptability of a text message–based (SMS: short message service) intervention in a largely African American population with ADHF and explore its effects on self-management.
Hospitalized patients with ADHF were enrolled in an automated text message–based heart failure program for 30 days following discharge. Messages provided self-care reminders and patient education on diet, symptom recognition, and health care navigation. Demographic and cell phone usage data were collected on enrollment, and an exit survey was administered on completion. The Self-Care of Heart Failure Index (SCHFI) was administered preintervention and postintervention and compared using sample t tests (composite) and Wilcoxon rank sum tests (individual). Clinical data were collected through chart abstraction.
Of 51 patients approached for recruitment, 27 agreed to participate and 15 were enrolled (14 African-American, 1 White). Barriers to enrollment included not owning a personal cell phone (n=12), failing the Mini-Mental exam (n=3), needing a proxy (n=2), hard of hearing (n=1), and refusal (n=3). Another 3 participants left the study for health reasons and 3 others had technology issues. A total of 6 patients (5 African-American, 1 White) completed the postintervention surveys. The mean age was 50 years (range 23-69) and over half had Medicaid or were uninsured (60%, 9/15). The mean ejection fraction for those with systolic dysfunction was 22%, and at least two-thirds had a prior hospitalization in the past year. Participants strongly agreed that the program was easy to use (83%), reduced pills missed (66%), and decreased salt intake (66%). Maintenance (mean composite score 49 to 78, P=.003) and management (57 to 86, P=.002) improved at 4 weeks, whereas confidence did not change (57 to 75, P=.11). Of the 6 SCHFI items that showed a statistically significant improvement, 5 were specifically targeted by the texting intervention.
Over half of ADHF patients in an urban, largely African American community were eligible and interested in participating in a text messaging program following discharge. Access to mobile phones was a significant barrier that should be addressed in future interventions. Among the participants who completed the study, we observed a high rate of satisfaction and preliminary evidence of improvements in heart failure self-management.
PMCID: PMC3636116  PMID: 23478028
heart failure; self-care; patient education; cellular phone; text messaging; African Americans
25.  Mobile Phone Text Messaging Intervention for Cervical Cancer Screening: Changes in Knowledge and Behavior Pre-Post Intervention 
Cervical cancer poses a significant threat to Korean American women, who are reported to have one of the highest cervical cancer mortality rates in the United States. Studies consistently report that Korean American women have the lowest Pap test screening rates across US ethnic groups.
In response to the need to enhance cervical cancer screening in this vulnerable population, we developed and tested a 7-day mobile phone text message-based cervical cancer Screening (mScreening) intervention designed to promote the receipt of Pap tests by young Korean American women.
We developed and assessed the acceptability and feasibility of a 1-week mScreening intervention to increase knowledge of cervical cancer screening, intent to receive screening, and the receipt of a Pap test. Fogg’s Behavior Model was the conceptual framework that guided the development of the mScreening intervention. A series of focus groups were conducted to inform the development of the intervention. The messages were individually tailored for each participant and delivered to them for a 7-day period at each participant’s preferred time. A quasi-experimental research design of 30 Korean American women aged 21 to 29 years was utilized with baseline, post (1 week after the completion of mScreening), and follow-up (3 months after the completion of mScreening) testing.
Findings revealed a significant increase in participants’ knowledge of cervical cancer (P<.001) and guidelines for cervical cancer screening (P=.006). A total of 23% (7/30) (95% CI 9.9-42.3) of the mScreening participants received a Pap test; 83% (25/30) of the participants expressed satisfaction with the intervention and 97% (29/30) reported that they would recommend the program to their friends, indicating excellent acceptability and feasibility of the intervention.
This study provides evidence of the effectiveness and feasibility of the mScreening intervention. Mobile technology is a promising tool to increase both knowledge and receipt of cervical cancer screening. Given the widespread usage of mobile phones among young adults, a mobile phone-based health intervention could be a low-cost and effective method of reaching populations with low cervical cancer screening rates, using individually tailored messages that cover broad content areas and overcome restrictions to place and time of delivery.
PMCID: PMC4180333  PMID: 25164545
cervical cancer; Pap test; mobile health; text-messaging intervention; health behavior change; Korean American women; health disparity

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