A text message a day keeps the asthma attack away

April 30, 2013, Georgia Institute of Technology
Example of Asthma Text

(Medical Xpress)—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, pediatric patients who were asked questions about their symptoms and provided information about asthma via SMS text messages 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 at Georgia Tech.

T.J. Yun, former Georgia Tech Ph.D. student, and Arriaga will present their research, "A a Day Keeps the Away", today at the ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2013 in Paris.The research won a best paper award in the Replichi category, which highlights best practices in study methodology.

It is also a replication study of an SMS for patients originally published in early 2012 in the Proceedings of the 2nd ACM SIGHIT International Symposium.

The results of the research hold promise for the future of mHealth studies, a trend based on the idea that mobile devices can be used to improve health and wellness.

Asthma is the most prevalent chronic respiratory disorder in the U.S., affecting about 17.3 million individuals, including more than 5 million children. Medication is the main way patients manage symptoms, but research shows less than 30 percent of teens use their inhalers regularly.

Example of Asthma Text

Texting, on the other hand, is something teens do regularly and enjoy. Nearly 75 percent of American teens have mobile devices. Georgia Tech researchers were interested in seeing if this ubiquitous, easy-to-use technology could help young patients manage their asthma.

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 SMS 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 SMS messages 87 percent of the time, and the average response time was within 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.

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

In another mHealth study that highlighted the role that online social networks can have on wellness, Arriaga, Georgia Tech Regents Professor of Interactive Computing Gregory Abowd and graduate student Hwajung Hong investigated whether social networking could help individuals with autism improve their social connectedness.

One of the challenges 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 over-rely on a primary caregiver, which limits their independence and may burden the caregiver.

The study involved three individuals with Asperger's Syndrome, a diagnosis that reflects average or above average language skills, but impaired social skills and patterns of behaviors and interests. Individuals with Asperger's Syndrome can have difficulty using traditional social networking sites such as Facebook because it requires a degree of social nuance. They also may be vulnerable to users trying to take advantage of them.

To address this issue, Georgia Tech researchers set up a specialized social network for participants using the commercial cross-platform service, GroupMe. Each participant was linked with a small, pre-determined number of family and friends that he or she could reach out to about everyday life issues and questions.

Over four weeks, GroupME motivated each participant to communicate with this trusted circle of members and reduce reliance on his or her primary caregiver. The circle actively engaged and shared the responsibility for responding to the participant's queries. Primary caregivers gave positive reviews of the specialized social network, saying that they were happy with the diversity of feedback that the system provided and that the load felt lighter thanks to the help of the circle members. Results indicate that positive online interactions lead to real-life interactions between the individuals and their circle members.

Explore further: Can text messaging improve medication adherence?

More information: The paper, "Investigating the Use of Circles in Social Networks to Support Independence of Individuals with Autism", will also be presented during the SIGCHI 2013 conference. www.cc.gatech.edu/~arriaga/YunArriagaCHI13.pdf

Related Stories

Can text messaging improve medication adherence?

May 24, 2011
Text messaging and adolescents don’t always mix well, but researchers at National Jewish Health hope text messages can spur teenagers to take their asthma medications more reliably. The study is testing whether health ...

Telephone trumps social media when communicating with teens about research

August 10, 2011
If you think teenagers prefer social media over the telephone, you may want to think again, at least when it comes to teens involved in research studies.

uok? Text messages - even automated ones - can soothe the disconnected soul

April 10, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Text messaging often gets a bad rap for contributing to illiteracy and high-risk behavior such as reckless driving. But a social welfare professor at the University of California, Berkeley, has found an ...

Mobile clinics, home visits of little benefit to children with asthma who need care the most

November 29, 2011
A new Johns Hopkins Children's Center study of Baltimore City children with asthma shows that two programs designed to improve disease outcomes among those who may be affected the worst fall short of expectations.

Text messages help HIV patients stick to antiretroviral drug therapy

March 13, 2012
Mobile phones could play a valuable role in helping HIV patients to take their medication every day, according to a new Cochrane Systematic Review. The researchers found that patients were less likely to miss doses if they ...

R U eating healthy 2day? New study highlights effectiveness of healthy lifestyle text messages for teens

January 9, 2013
According to the Nielsen consumer research group, teens receive an average of 3,417 text messages per month (that's 114 texts per day!). Couple this with CDC's report that high school students' consumption of fruit and vegetables ...

Recommended for you

New study offers insights on genetic indicators of COPD risk

January 16, 2018
Researchers have discovered that genetic variations in the anatomy of the lungs could serve as indicators to help identify people who have low, but stable, lung function early in life, and those who are particularly at risk ...

Previous influenza virus exposures enhance susceptibility in another influenza pandemic

January 16, 2018
While past exposure to influenza A viruses often builds immunity to similar, and sometimes different, strains of the virus, Canadian researchers are calling for more attention to exceptions to that rule.

Don't hold your nose and close your mouth when you sneeze, doctors warn

January 15, 2018
Pinching your nose while clamping your mouth shut to contain a forceful sneeze isn't a good idea, warn doctors in the journal BMJ Case Reports.

New antifungal provides hope in fight against superbugs

January 12, 2018
Microscopic yeast have been wreaking havoc in hospitals around the world—creeping into catheters, ventilator tubes, and IV lines—and causing deadly invasive infection. One culprit species, Candida auris, is resistant ...

Dengue takes low and slow approach to replication

January 11, 2018
A new study reveals how dengue virus manages to reproduce itself in an infected person without triggering the body's normal defenses. Duke researchers report that dengue pulls off this hoax by co-opting a specialized structure ...

Different strains of same bacteria trigger widely varying immune responses

January 11, 2018
Genetic differences between different strains of the same pathogenic bacterial species appear to result in widely varying immune system responses, according to new research published in PLOS Pathogens.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.