Exploratory Study of Psychosocial Therapies with Text Messages to Mobile Phones in Groups of Vulnerable Immigrant Women

Abstract

Various experimental studies on psychosocial therapy have been carried out through text messages with groups of people suffering from depression, anxiety, alcoholism, addictions, etc., but without distinguishing between men and women or highly vulnerable groups such as immigrants. We present an exploratory study of a mobile communication system which intends to improve the mental, physical and social health of a group of vulnerable immigrant women in Spain (n = 71), distinguishing between an intervention group and a non-equivalent control group. We sent automatic text messages (SMS) to the mobile phones of an intervention group formed by immigrant women who used the social services (n = 44). During a 26-day intervention period, the women received 4 daily automatic text messages on their phones, at a predetermined time. We measured mood and depression symptoms at the beginning and end of the intervention, and analysed the qualitative data to determine the acceptance level of a remote message program. The mood and depression symptoms were measured with the personal health questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) and were significantly better in the intervention group; they evolved from an initial 9.4 (DS = 6.4, range 1–25) to a 5.0 score at the end of the message period (DS = 4.8); with a significant difference (t (44) = 2.01, p = 7.80). Most women stated that the messages had improved their mood (86.3%), which made them feel more connected to their social environment (65.9%) and that they would like to continue receiving more messages (86.6%).

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Acknowledgements

This research would not be possible without the support and collaboration of the General Directorate of Social Inclusion of the Xunta de Galicia and the Iberian Association of Systems and Information Technology AISTI.

The costs of this study were covered by the General Directorate of Social Inclusion of the Autonomous Government of Galicia, Spain.

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Correspondence to Yolanda García.

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García, Y., Ferrás, C., Rocha, Á. et al. Exploratory Study of Psychosocial Therapies with Text Messages to Mobile Phones in Groups of Vulnerable Immigrant Women. J Med Syst 43, 277 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10916-019-1393-3

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Keywords

  • Psychosocial therapy
  • Woman
  • Text messages
  • Mobile phones
  • E-health