Texting aids adolescents in chronic disease management

Texting helped teenage chronic disease patients to be more efficient in managing their condition, according to new research out of the University of California, San Diego.

For the study, researchers examined 81 adolescents with chronic disease, ages 12 to 20 years, over the course of eight months. The participants participated in an intensive web-based and text intervention program, in which they were given disease management and skill-based intervention, as well as access via the mobile text program to a healthcare team.

The results indicated that teens using text messaging took a more active role in their care, communicated more with caregivers and were better equipped to transition from pediatric to adult-oriented healthcare systems.

"One of the frustrations that many of us face is that teens come in and don't particularly communicate well with us, and we often hear about their problems and issues through their parents," lead researcher Jeannie Huang, a UC San Diego assistant professor of pediatrics, told KPBS.

University of British Columbia researchers likely are hoping for a similar results with a new text messaging program for pregnant women living in rural locations. In Pennsylvania, the UnitedHealthcare Community Plan is deploying two free text messaging services to help Medicaid patients take an active role in their wellness and health management.

Research published last spring found that teenagers were willing to use texting to report their health information.

The UC San Diego researchers stated that adolescents "demonstrated significant improvements in performance of disease management tasks, health-related self-efficacy, and patient-initiated communications."

For more information:
- read the study's abstract
- read an article on study results