Depression is projected to be the primary cause of disability worldwide by 2030. Our aim was to test the feasibility of a supportive text messaging mobile health intervention in improving treatment outcomes in depressed patients.
We performed a single-rater-blinded randomised trial involving 73 patients with Major Depressive Disorder. Patients in the intervention group (n = 35) received twice-daily supportive text messages for 3 months while those in the control group (n = 38) received a single text message every fortnight thanking them for participating in the study.
After adjusting for baseline BDI scores, a significant difference remained in the three month mean BDI scores between the intervention and control groups: (20.8 (SD = 11.7) vs. 24.9 (SD = 11.5), F (1, 60) = 4.83, P = 0.03, ηp2 = 0.07). The mean difference in the BDI scores change was significant with an effect size (Cohen's d) of 0.67. Furthermore, after adjusting for baseline scores, a significant difference remained in the three month mean self-rated VAS scores (EQ-5D-5L scale) between the intervention and control groups, 65.7 (SD = 15.3) vs. 57.4 (SD = 22.9), F (1, 60) = 4.16, P = 0.05, ηp2 = 0.065. The mean difference in change mean self-rated VAS scores was also statistically significant with an effect size (Cohen's d) of 0.51.
Our findings suggest that supportive text messages are a potentially useful psychological intervention for depression, especially in underserved populations. Further studies are needed to explore the implications of our findings in larger clinical samples.