Testing texting

Last year SMS traffic globally was expected to break eight trillion. It is a highly accessible communications channel and one that the George Institute for Global Health has harnessed to test whether simple reminders sent via mobile phone text message can reduce cardiovascular risk.

With cardiovascular disease, including coronary heart diseases and stroke, the leading cause of death and disease burden globally, researchers will focus on whether supporting lifestyle change is an effective way of preventing further attacks.

Clara Chow, Head of the Cardiac Program, Cardiovascular Division at the George Institute, said the TEXT ME (tobacco, exercise and diet messages) trial began in September 2011 and would continue over the next 18 months.

“Mobile phone text messages may potentially be a cheap, safe and simple way to promote healthy behaviour, improve mood and increase compliance with cardiac medication,” she said.

“This in turn would reduce cardiovascular risk, but the effectiveness of this approach needs to be tested in well-designed and rigorously conducted clinical trials. We’ve already had some very positive feedback from participants.

“Only a few studies exist testing the use of mobile phone text messages to modify single cardiovascular risk factors, such as smoking. No known studies have previously evaluated the acceptability, feasibility and efficacy of a text message-delivered intervention for addressing multiple cardiovascular risk factors in persons with established disease.”

The George study will be the first to provide reliable data about the effectiveness of a text message intervention for managing multiple cardiovascular risk factors.

You can read more about the Text Me trial in a recent BMJ Open article.