Text Message Programs Can Promote Healthy Choices in Young Adults, Finds Study

A study at four Pittsburgh-area UPMC hospitals reveals a text message-based intervention can help promote healthy alcohol consumption practices in young adults.

Researchers divided the study participants, 765 former emergency department patients who screened positive for dangerous levels of alcohol use, into three groups. The first received weekly text message questions about their drinking plans for that weekend, real-time responses encouraging healthy behavior and follow-up messages about their drinking the past weekend. The second group just received the text messages asking them to report previous drinking without the feedback or encouragement, and a control group did not receive any text messages. After 12 weeks, researchers examined participants' self-reported levels of drinking.

Results showed a decrease in the number of binge-drinking days and number of drinks per day among participants who received the feedback text messages, and an increase in binge-drinking days and number of drinks per day among the group that just reported their drinking and the control group.

The results suggest a text message-based intervention can help reduce dangerous drinking among young adults. However, they noted a decline in participation among study participants over the 12 weeks, suggesting the intervention may need to be adjusted in order to maintain participants' interest.

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