Texting doctors can help adolescents with chronic diseases like cystic fibrosis, gastrointestinal disorders (including Crohn’s disease) and Type 1 diabetes to better manage their healthcare, according to a University of California San Diego study. The teens are also more likely to report early signs of health problems via SMS.
Texting doctors can help adolescents with chronic diseases and they are also more likely to report early signs of health problems.“Give them a voice, and they will talk,” lead author Dr. Jeannie Huang said. “And that’s really what we want them to do,” NY Daily News reports. “How do you reach people who don’t come into the clinic?” she said. “Mobile technology is a great way because it’s meeting teens in their own space.”
Teens suffering from chronic diseases often delay in seeking an appointment to report their symptoms, the researchers have found. The delays are common when young adults are in transition from being pediatric patients to adult medical patients, and interventions to help them in this transition do not always succeed and is either expensive, labor-intensive or both.
For the study, a communication tool called MD2Me was designed to help young adults with chronic diseases to shift effortlessly into adult healthcare. 81 adolescents between 12 and 20 years old participated, half of which got the modern, mobile tool and the rest received health-management materials in the mail and served as a control group. Both groups received information on how to fill prescriptions, how to monitor symptoms, how to obtain health insurance and how to communicate with doctors and friends about chronic illnesses.
Participants of the study equipped with a mobile tool fared better than the control group, displaying confidence and capabilities of looking after their illness.Unsurprisingly, the MD2Me participants fared better than the control group, displaying confidence and capabilities of looking after their illness. What’s more, these patients twice requested for help, while the controls initiated none.
“What the study really proved is that the issues children with chronic illness face are universal – how to call the doctor, when to call the doctor, how to get medication,” said Dr. Mark Applebaum from the University of Chicago. “For patients with chronic illness, once they turn 18 or go to college, their health status often deteriorates. If you leave a voicemail on a teenager’s phone, they’re likely not to check it for a month. The teens vastly prefer text messaging.”
The finding is published in Journal Pediatrics.
[Via: University Herald]