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This is How Text Messaging Can Improve Your Health

by Christine Skelly » on Feb 20, 2016 0

There’s a seemingly unlimited amount of uses for your smartphone these days. We use phones as an alarm clock, a newspaper, a flashlight, and a camera. Many people track their health and fitness using smartphones and applications. It’s common for people to record how many steps they took in a day or how many stairs they climbed. The apps make tracking your healthy habits easy and turn it into a sort of game. In fact, there are over 100,000 health-related apps available on the market, although not all of them have been proven to be helpful.

But outside of apps, doctors and health professionals are looking to a different way to reach patients and the public: Text messages. Text messaging (also known as SMS – short message service) have proved to have positive effects on people’s health choices and have shown to be a way to easily connect for a healthier lifestyle.

Reminders

A number of hospitals and health groups have conducted studies and trials on sending text messages a few days a week to people with a specific disease (such as diabetes or coronary disease) in a style similar to SMS marketing. People would be sent reminders or motivational/inspirational tips related to their condition. One study, published in the journal of the American Medical Association, looked at people with heart disease. When the trial was complete, participants had reduced their cholesterol, blood pressure, and body mass index.

The doctors and authors of the study said they were surprised at the results. They had split the participants into two groups. Half got 4 – 6 text messages a week, the other half received only the standard care — no text messages. The texts were semi-personalized based on name and background information provided.

Education

Similar to reminders, some doctors have done trials on sending weekly health tips to try and improve people who are at risk for certain conditions. Researchers at the University of Michigan used a text messaging program to try and help individuals decrease their risk of type 2 diabetes.

The doctors said that the participants were much more likely to change their behaviors. People said the reminders made them switch out sugary drinks, choose fruit instead of dessert, or shop more healthy at the grocery store. The participants said the texts made them more conscientious of their overall health and lifestyle.

An interesting note is that while most participants said the program was helpful, not many made it all the way through. Less than half stuck with the program the entire 14-week time period.
Modern phones have given us a wide world of knowledge at our fingertips. People use them as a way to improve their lives or in the hopes of making life a little easier. Doctors and health professionals have been able to use technology to improve the lives of patients or those at risk for certain conditions. Weekly text messages have been proven to help people make better choices for their bodies and live a more healthy lifestyle.


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