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FOTO Rehab Outcomes Blog

Text Message Reminders for Older Adults with Low Back Pain

 Success in rehabilitation requires patients to actively participate in their program.  I've been seeing more and more start up companies focused on providing ways to engage patients when they are not in the clinic.

I found this abstract quite interesting because of the targeted population. Do older adults appreciate text messaging and do text messages change behavior?

This was a really small study. It didn't get into outcomes of care. It focused on how the older adult perceived the text messages. I suppose it is kind of helpful to know how patients felt about the text messages. The burning questions I still have: did the text messaging enhance the experience and did the text messaging affect the final outcome of care by reducing the number of recurrent episodes of low back pain.

Below you will find a quick view of the abstract. 


Experiences of Older Adults With Mobile Phone Text Messaging as Reminders of Home Exercises After Specialized Manual Therapy for Recurrent Low Back Pain: A Qualitative Study.




Clinical experience of manual therapy for musculoskeletal pain is that patients often suffer from recurrent pain and disorders, but that they do not continue to perform their physical home exercises when they are free from symptoms. The chance of positive long-term effects of manual therapy would probably increase if patients were reminded that they are to continue to perform their exercises. Mobile phone text messaging (short messaging service, SMS) is increasingly used as an innovative intervention to remind patient to exercise. However, there are only a few studies on such interventions in the field of low back pain (LBP). Qualitative studies of patients' experiences of receiving text messages as reminders of home exercises after manual treatment for recurrent LBP have to the best of our knowledge never been published.


The aim of this study was to explore older persons' common experiences of receiving reminders of home exercises through mobile phone text messaging after specialized manual therapy for recurrent LBP.


A total of 7 men and 8 women (67-86 years), who had sought specialized manual therapy (Naprapathic manual therapy) for recurrent LBP were included in the study. Individual one-way text messages as reminders of home exercises (to be performed on a daily basis) were sent to each patient every third day for 3 weeks, then once a week for another 2 weeks. Semistructured interviews with 2 broad, open-ended questions were held and data were analyzed with systematic text condensation, based on Giorgi's principles of psychological phenomenological analysis.


The participants appreciated the messages, which were perceived as timely and usable, and also stimulated memorizing. The messages made the participants reflect on the aim of the exercise, value of being reminded, and on their improvement in pain. During the interviews, the participants created their own routines for continued adherence to the exercises.


It seems plausible that mobile phone text messaging may serve as a useful tool for patient empowerment with regard to recurrent LBP in older persons. Further studies are needed to explore whether future compliance with the exercises will be as large if the participants are not being interviewed.

2017 Mar 30;5(3):e39. doi: 10.2196/mhealth.7184.