Texting better than apps for mental illness

Texting better than apps for mental illness
Highlights

Texting Better Than Apps for Mental Illness. Scientists have claimed that texting may be a more suitable than mobile applications when it comes to treatment for mental ill patients.

Washington: Scientists have claimed that texting may be a more suitable than mobile applications when it comes to treatment for mental ill patients.

While there has been much research from the technology community regarding health monitoring and care delivery applications for older adults, chronic disease management and preventive health, there have been fewer investigations of ways that readily available technologies can be used to assist in the treatment of mental health disorders.

Kelly Caine, assistant professor in Clemson's School of Computing, which led the study, said that cell phone technology was in the hands of millions of Americans and early research indicates that it could be useful to help people suffering from some form of mental illness.

Caine and her colleagues surveyed 325 patients currently receiving treatment at community-based outpatient clinics for mental illness to determine their cell phone ownership and usage patterns.

The results showed that cell phone ownership among these mental health patients was comparable with ownership among a nationally representative, non-patient sample, with the exception that more patients than non-patients shared their mobile phones.

Caine said that among mental health patients, they found that texting was the most popular feature used and downloading apps was the least popular. The patients often shared phones, which made providing private, secure messages difficult.

Almost 80 percent of the patients surveyed used texting and many did not use mobile applications, meaning that texting may be accessible to the majority of patients and may therefore make a more suitable treatment aid. Also, participants who already were comfortable with texting also reported that they were comfortable with the concept of texting their mental health provider, implying that texting may be an appropriate feature for mobile health (mHealth) interventions.

In the paper, the researches write the cell phones and other mHealth technologies that are designed considering the ownership, usage patterns and needs of patients have the potential to be successful treatment aids.

The study was published in the journal Personal and Ubiquitous Computing.

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