Home > Text message interventions in adolescent mental health and addiction services: scoping review.

MacDougall, Sarah and Jerrott, Susan and Clark, Sharon and Campbell, Leslie Anne and Murphy, Andrea and Wozney, Lori (2021) Text message interventions in adolescent mental health and addiction services: scoping review. JMIR Mental Health, 8, (1), e16508. doi: 10.2196/16508.

External website: https://mental.jmir.org/2021/1/e16508/

BACKGROUND: The vast majority of adolescent mental health and substance use disorders go undiagnosed and undertreated. SMS text messaging is increasingly used as a method to deliver adolescent health services that promote psychological well-being and aim to protect adolescents from adverse experiences and risk factors critical for their current and future mental health. To date, there has been no comprehensive synthesis of the existing literature on the extent, range, and implementation contexts of these SMS text message interventions.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this scoping review was to map and categorize gaps in the current body of peer-reviewed research around the use of SMS text messaging-based interventions for mental health and addiction services among adolescents.

METHODS: A scoping review was conducted according to Levac's adaptation of Arksey and O'Malley's methodological framework for scoping reviews in six iterative stages. A search strategy was cocreated and adapted for five unique databases. Studies were screened using Covidence software. The PICO (patient, intervention, comparator, outcome) framework and input from multiple stakeholder groups were used to structure and pilot a data extraction codebook. Data were extracted on study methodology and measures, intervention design, and implementation characteristics, as well as policy, practice, and research implications.

RESULTS: We screened 1142 abstracts. Of these, 31 articles published between 2013 and 2020 were eligible for inclusion. Intervention engagement was the most common type of outcome measured (18/31), followed by changes in cognitions (16/31; eg, disease knowledge, self-awareness) and acceptability (16/31). Interventions were typically delivered in less than 12 weeks, and adolescents received 1-3 messages per week. Bidirectional messaging was involved in 65% (20/31) of the studies. Limited descriptions of implementation features (eg, cost, policy implications, technology performance) were reported.

CONCLUSIONS: The use of SMS text messaging interventions is a rapidly expanding area of research. However, lack of large-scale controlled trials and theoretically driven intervention designs limits generalizability. Significant gaps in the literature were observed in relation to implementation considerations, cost, clinical workflow, bidirectionality of texting, and level of personalization and tailoring of the interventions. Given the growth of mobile phone-based interventions for this population, a rigorous program of large-scale, well-designed trials is urgently required.

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