Previously on the Healthyist, we've talked about the power of mHealth (mobile health) to reach
our consumers where they are, but the field is new, and there isn't
yet a significant evidence base. As readers may have noticed, my
interests lie in tobacco control and cessation. There are a few
programs out there in the United States that use text messages,
rather than a mobile app or mobile web, to not only get a message
across, but to actually deliver health interventions: Text4Baby,
HealthTxts, SmokefreeTXT, SmokefreeMOM
Until very recently, there had been no studies conducted in the
United States that evaluated smoking cessation texting programs,
all of which are relatively new (within the past 5 years or so).
But in 2011, Dr. Caroline Free, et al., performed a randomized
controlled trial on the program she developed in the UK called
Txt2Stop. In the
trial, they found that for those using the Txt2Stop program,
the chemically verified abstinence from smoking at 6 months out was
more than twice that of quitters in the control group!
Although there have been two quit-smoking texting programs
available in the United States for several years, the results of a
new study performed by Dr. Lorien Abroms of The George Washington
University have now replicated the results of the 2011 study in the
UK: Text2Quit. The
study shows, once again, that using a texting program to
deliver a quit-smoking intervention is about twice as effective as
traditional quit-smoking materials.
But why is that? It's likely because users of the programs get
frequent reminders of their goal to stop smoking, along with tips
and advice help them. And it comes directly to your mobile phone-a
device that we invite to interrupt our lives. By providing constant
feedback, information, reminders, and 24/7 support,
text-message interventions have the potential to reach huge numbers
of people to help them achieve their health goals.
What health behavior will be the next to be delivered to our