The texts that reduced clinician depression, anxiety: Penn Medicine

A study conducted by Philadelphia-based University of Pennsylvania found regular, automated text reminders on how to access mental health resources helped decrease healthcare workers' depression and anxiety.

The study, published May 24 in JAMA Network Open, analyzed the self-reported anxiety and depression symptoms of 1,275 healthcare workers between January 2022 and March 2023. The workers' included physicians, nurses, technicians, registrars and others. The employees were split between an intervention group, which received monthly, automated reminder text messages on mental health and available resources on a platform called Cobalt, and a control group, which had access to Cobalt but received no texts

Here are five findings:

  • The self-reported depression symptom scores improved by roughly 11% in six months for those who received regular text messages compared to 5% for the control group.

  • Both groups saw scores improve by over 22% after nine months.

  • The control group had little improvement in anxiety at six months, but the nine-month assessment found a 13% improvement.

  • For those who received text messages, anxiety scores improved by 17% after six months and 30% after nine months.

  • In the intervention group, the depression symptom and anxiety symptom scores were just shy of indicating no symptoms after nine months of receiving access to the platform.

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