Texting Is a More Effective Mental Health Care Tool Than Mobile Apps

Texting patients with mental health disorders is a more effective treatment tool than having such individuals use a mobile application, according to a study published in the journal Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, Health Data Management reports.

Details of Study

For the study, researchers interviewed 325 patients being treated for mental illness at community-based outpatient clinics. The researchers sought to identify patterns in phone ownership and usage.

The study was conducted by researchers from:

  • The Centerstone Research Institute;
  • Clemson University; and
  • Indiana University.


Kelly Caine, a study author and assistant professor at Clemson’s School of Computing, said the study found that “texting was the most popular feature used,” used by about 80% of patients. Meanwhile, she said that “downloading apps was the least popular.”

In addition, patients who reported being comfortable using text messages also said they were comfortable with the idea of texting their mental health providers.

The survey found that mobile phone ownership among the patients was comparable to that of a nationally representative, non-patient sample. However, more patients than non-patients shared their phones, which could make providing private and secure messages challenging (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 1/30).

Overall, the researchers concluded that texting could be “a feasible form of treatment aid for those with mental illness and may be useful as a supplementary treatment for those with low income or little to no access to treatment” (Mottl, FierceMobileHealthcare, 1/31).


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