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Editor's Note
March 2016

Texting for Health Education

JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(3):328. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.8285

When I want my 13-year-old son to do something, I do not go to his room (“Get away, Dad”) or email him (so yesterday!) or call him (he will not answer). Instead, I text him. His usual answer is “k,” but it gets the job done. Therefore, I was not surprised that texting young adults was an effective smoking cessation technique. Specifically, in this issue of JAMA Internal Medicine, Müssener et al1 report that 8-week prolonged abstinence was almost twice as high among those randomized to receive specially tailored smoking cessation texts compared with those in the control group (25.9% vs 14.6%).

Of course, this is just one study and, unfortunately, biochemical confirmation of tobacco cessation was not possible. Still, if we are to make progress in health education, our techniques must keep up with how people wish to receive their information. Smart phones are almost ubiquitous, even among relatively low-income populations, and interventions using texts are likely to be much less costly than interventions involving face-to-face interactions. We need to figure out how to harness the power of smart phones—and not just for getting our children to throw out the garbage.

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Article Information

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.

Müssener  U, Bendtsen  M, Karlsson  N, White  IR, McCambridge  J, Bendtsen  P.  Effectiveness of short message service text-based smoking cessation intervention among university students: a randomized clinical trial [published online February 22, 2016].  JAMA Intern Med. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.8260.Google Scholar