Texting and Health

iStock_17258462_MEDIUMCan receiving text messages help improve a person's choices relative to reducing diabetes risk behaviors?  That was the central question addressed by a study Rick and I discuss on PodMed this week, as published in a journal we've never talked about before: the Journal of Medical Internet Research.  We're betting we will be hearing more from this journal as all over the world, the potential for using internet and mobile technologies to monitor, support and change choices that affect an individual's health is being undertaken, especially if the results equal or surpass those seen here.

This study was conducted in India among a cohort culled from a million Nokia phone subscribers. The study subjects received 56 text messages over the course of six months in their choice of 12 languages. The messages targeted fruit, vegetable and fat consumption and endorsed more exercise. A control group received no messages.  At the end of the study message receivers were more likely to consume more fruits and vegetables and attempt to reduce fat intake, although there was no improvement in exercise. The authors conclude that in low and middle-income countries, where diabetes risk is quite high and so is mobile phone access, such a strategy could have a great impact on new cases of diabetes in the future.  Questions we'd like to see answered would include the impact over a longer period of follow-up and the durability of results, but for now, we're encouraged.

Other topics this week include the impact of exercise on five common health conditions in the BMJ, ICU stays versus those on a medical floor with regard to outcomes in JAMA Internal Medicine, and insurance status and outcomes for two cancers in Cancer.  Until next week, y'all live well.

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