Using mobile phones and short message service to deliver self-management interventions for chronic conditions: a meta-review

Worldviews Evid Based Nurs. 2014 Apr;11(2):81-8. doi: 10.1111/wvn.12030. Epub 2014 Mar 5.


Background: The worldwide burden of chronic disease is widespread and growing. This shift from acute to chronic care requires rethinking how resources are invested in managing these conditions. One response has been to create programs and interventions that have the goal of helping patients better manage their own conditions. Over time, these self-management interventions and strategies have increasingly relied on various technologies for their implementation, with the newest technology being mobile phones and short message service (SMS).

Aim: The objective of this meta-review was to evaluate the current evidence on the use of mobile phones and SMS to deliver self-management interventions for chronic conditions.

Methods: A meta-review was conducted of the 11 systematic reviews (SRs) that were identified and retrieved after an extensive search of electronic databases covering the years 2000-2012. Relevant information was abstracted from each systematic review and a quality assessment carried out using the AMSTAR ("A Measurement Tool to Assess Systematic Reviews") criteria.

Findings: The number and types of included studies and total number of subjects varied significantly across the systematic reviews. Mobile phone text messaging was reported to significantly improve adherence to appointments and antiretroviral therapy, short-term smoking quit rates, and selected clinical and behavioral outcomes. AMSTAR scores ranged from 11 to 3, reflecting substantial variation in SR quality.

Linking evidence to action: Mobile phones and SMS show promise as a technology to deliver self-management interventions to improve outcomes of chronic care management. However, the quality of future studies and systematic reviews needs to be improved. There also are unresolved issues about the technology itself.

Keywords: chronic conditions; meta-review; mobile phones; self-management; short message service; text messages.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination / methods*
  • Reminder Systems*
  • Self Care*
  • Text Messaging*