Text message health interventions enjoy great success over past five years

Healthcare promotion via text messages has proved successful in the majority of interventions over the past five years, according to a systematic review of studies published in The Annual Review of Public Health.

Diabetes self-management, weight loss, physical activity, smoking cessation and medication adherence are all areas in which treatment has been improved as a result of healthcare establishments sending regular text messages to patients, mobihealthnews.com reports.

In total, the review looked at 15 different text message intervention studies between 2009 and 2014, which themselves contained 228 individual studies. The number of participants in each ranged from ten to 5,800, with an end goal being to improve health promotion, disease prevention and chronic disease self-management.

Text message interventions were found to have “statistically significant effects on health outcomes and/or health behaviours”, said the report. They proved particularly effective for HIV care, diabetes self-management and smoking cessation. The SMS strategies involved personalised messages for each recipient, medcitynews.com notes.

Reasons attributed to the success of text messages in the healthcare industry in the study include the relatively low cost of reaching large numbers of people, the ease in which campaigns can be scaled, and the high open rate of text messages. The review comes shortly after it was revealed that making SMS messages mandatory in the NHS could save £162 million a year.