Patient Info Via Technology

Technology based interventions for public health problems could reach a lot of people

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) People surveyed said they were more likely to read health information in an email or text than a paper pamphlet. Technology provides a format for spreading helpful health information.

A recent study surveyed emergency room patients to see their preferred method to receive behavioral health intervention information.

The majority of all patients, regardless of age, race or socio-economic status, wanted information via email or text.

"Take advantage of doctor’s email and text alert services."

Megan L. Ranney, MD, professor at The Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University and physician at Rhode Island Hospital, led an investigation into communications with emergency room patients.

The study set out to determine whether ER patients preferred technology-based interventions over pamphlet information for negative behavioral health issues.

The health issues proposed for technology-based interventions included: unintentional injury, peer violence, domestic violence, mental health, tobacco use, alcohol and substance use and risky sexual practices.

Researchers went into urban hospitals and surveyed several groups of people over the age of 13 about their technology use and attitudes towards technology-based interventions for seven behavioral health topics.

The final group of eligible participants was made up of 664 people with an average age of 31, 55 percent female, 64 percent white and 47 percent low income.

Nearly all (91 percent) used computers, 70 percent reported using the Internet and 67 percent participated in social networking. Mobile phones were used by 95 percent and 74 percent used the text messaging feature.

Results of the survey revealed that 90 percent preferred technology-based interventions for at least one of the seven behavioral health topics.

Just over half of the patients were concerned about privacy issues.

Dr. Ranney said, “Many of our ER patients report behaviors that put them at high risk for poor health, like cigarette smoking, alcohol use and being a victim of violence.”

“Although emergency medicine physicians care about these problems, we face many barriers to helping patients change risky behaviors.”

“Some of these barriers include lack of time in a busy, Level I, urban emergency department; lack of training in providing effective behavioral interventions; and a lack of knowledge of appropriate follow-up resources in an emergency setting.”

Authors concluded that further research is needed to determine what the best approach to these technology-based behavioral interventions would be.

This study is a good start into the possible benefits of providing easy-to-share educational resources to patients who need them.

This study was published in the August issue of Annals of Emergency Medicine. Funding for this study was provided by the University Emergency Medicine Foundation and the Lifespan health system, no conflicts of interest were found.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 24, 2012
Last Updated:
March 22, 2013