Text messaging can help young people manage asthma

A research letter published in the BMJ claimed that "text messages that are reminders about asthma treatment and useful tips on education may be a medium to allow people to make their disease comply with their lifestyle and not the other way around."

The researchers set up a mobile phone text message service consisting of daily reminders to use an inhaler and health education tips. They were all written in contemporary text jargon and sent by a "virtual friend with asthma" called Max, for example:

"Yo dude, its Max reminding U2 takeur inhaler"

The 30 participants included in the study seemed to develop a rapport with their virtual friend with asthma and frequently sent text messages back to Max, for example:

"Yep dis mornin" (Alex)

Compliance with using an inhaler may have favorably changed in response to the service.

In the small study, text messaging was probably helpful in asthma management. How about emails, Twitter and Facebook reminders? I think we should plan a project to evaluate the potential impact of these service as well.

A CommonCraft video explains what a microblogging platform is by using Twitter as an example.

According to The Lancet, text messages could hasten tuberculosis drug compliance. Just don't drive and text in California, it's against the law now.

3 C's of care - communication, continuity, concordance (finding common ground) are critical for asthma management (http://goo.gl/8gJM6).


Mobile phone text messaging can help young people manage asthma. BMJ 2002;325:600 ( 14 September ), Letters.
Text messages help teens with asthma. The Enquirer, Cincinnati, 04/2008.
Text messages could hasten tuberculosis drug compliance. Eliza Barclay. The Lancet, Volume 373, Issue 9657, Pages 15 - 16, 3 January 2009.
Can text messages be used to monitor health?
Monitoring mental health by text. BBC News.
Image source: OpenClipArt.org, public domain.


  1. This sounds like a great idea not just with asthma, but with any person who has to take meds. Great post.

  2. I think there is great potential for this application helping people with diabetes, too. I see how the use of this technology may save a human life. Thanks for this creative idea for text messaging. All ages can learn to text message!

  3. There is an interesting study using text messages with type 1 diabetics called 'Sweet Talk' published 2 yrs ago.



  4. Anonymous1/03/2009


    Thank you for the link. In this study the Sweet Talk text messaging system was associated with improved adherence but did not improve glycemic control.