Document Type

Master's Culminating Experience

Publication Date



Cellular text messaging is an emerging technology that influences patients’ decisions on health behaviors. It offers a cost-effective method to reduce healthcare costs by improving management for diseases or conditions associated with high morbidity/mortality. The objectives for this review are: 1) review current evidence on using text messages to influence patients’ health behaviors; 2) evaluate which conditions or diseases are most influenced by text messaging; 3) determine if basing the text messaging in a theoretical framework improves outcomes. Common literature databases were searched for any published review articles since 2005 on this subject. Thirty-six reviews met inclusion criteria. Overall, there is high quality evidence of improvement in tobacco cessation rates with text message interventions with low quality evidence of positive results with text messaging improving weight loss, diabetic self-control, and asthma control. The heterogeneity of studies (small sample size, mixed media interventions combined with texting, varying frequency of intervention and study length) creates difficulty in interpreting overall effectiveness of text messaging. There was also a lack of evidence to support using a behavior change theory to frame the interventions. However, motivational interviewing (MI) has been shown to motivate patients in changing health-related behaviors, but has not been explored within text messaging trials. MI could offer a new technique to improve the effectiveness of text messaging interventions. High-quality research should continue to examine the use of text messaging with MI messaging.

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