Recent discussions with my friends in China surprised me a little bit. They are way ahead in applying the advanced technology in public health area. They used the mobile phone text message to promote the smoking cessation. They recently applied research grant to study the effect of mobile phone text message in improving the maternal and child care. For pregnant women or new mothers, the mobile phone text message is used to send reminders, maternal care tips, child care tips,...
There have been some publications demonstrating the effectiveness of text message in these public health promotion areas. For example, a study in New Zealand demonstrated that smoking cessation using mobile phone text messaging is as effective in Maori as non-Maor. The newscientist.com reported that text messages double young smokers' quit rates.There are
It is natural to think that such text message approach can be used in clinical trials. When I search the clinicaltrials.gov, I can find many clinical trials using text message mostly for improving the adherence of clinical visits or adherence of drug taking.
In my opinion, effectiveness of using text message in clinical trials depends on the study population and the country the study is conducted. In China, if the study is conducted in urban areas, mobile phone text message could be very effective because 1) almost everyone has mobile phone; 2) people use text message more often than actual calling. In the United States, for general population, text message may not be a good approach because some family may still rely on residence-line phone instead of cell phone. Even though they have cell phone, they rarely use text message on daily basis. If a study is conducted in high school students or college students, text message could be an effective tool since all students like to use text messages.