Teens With Chronic Disease Get Help From Mobile Phones

Friday, May 23, 2014
By Kenny Goldberg

Eighty one teens with chronic conditions like Type 1 diabetes took part in a UC San Diego study. The results show mobile phones can help teens do a better job of managing their chronic diseases.

Those in the intervention group received up to five text messages a week on their mobile phones with advice on how to monitor their symptoms. They were also encouraged to text their health care team with concerns. In addition, they were given access to a special website with weekly lifestyle tips.

Other patients just got health information by email or regular mail.

Dr. Jeannie Huang, UC San Diego assistant professor of pediatrics, led the study. She says after eight months, teens using text messaging did a better job of staying on top of their condition. Dr. Huang thinks that’s partly because they communicated more often with their doctors.

“One of the frustrations that many of us face is that teens come in and don’t particularly communicate well with us, and we often hear about their problems and issues through their parents,” Dr. Huang said.

Huang said texting offers teens a way to take a more active role in their own care. And, she pointed out, it helps doctors get to know their young patients a little bit better.