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The Impact of a Text Messaging Service (Tonsil-Text-To-Me) on Pediatric Perioperative Tonsillectomy Outcomes: Cohort Study With a Historical Control Group

JMIR Perioper Med. 2022 Sep 20;5(1):e39617. doi: 10.2196/39617.


BACKGROUND: Tonsillectomy is a common pediatric surgical procedure performed in North America. Caregivers experience complex challenges in preparing for their child’s surgery and coordinating care at home and, consequently, could benefit from access to educational resources. A previous feasibility study of Tonsil-Text-To-Me, an automated SMS text messaging service that sends 15 time-sensitive activity reminders, links to nutrition and hydration tips, pain management strategies, and guidance on monitoring for complications, showed promising results, with high levels of caregiver satisfaction and engagement.

OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to pilot-test Tonsil-Text-To-Me in a real-world context to determine whether and how it might improve perioperative experiences and outcomes for caregivers and patients.

METHODS: Caregivers of children aged 3 to 14 years undergoing tonsillectomy were included. Data from a historical control group and an intervention group with the same study parameters (eg, eligibility criteria and surgery team) were compared. Measures included the Parenting Self-Agency Measure, General Health Questionnaire-12, Parents’ Postoperative Pain Measure, Client Satisfaction Questionnaire-8, and engagement analytics, as well as analgesic consumption, pain, child activity level, and health service use. Data were collected on the day before surgery, 3 days after surgery, and 14 days after surgery. Participants in the intervention group received texts starting 2 weeks before surgery up to the eighth day after surgery. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used.

RESULTS: In total, 51 caregivers (n=32, 63% control; n=19, 37% intervention) who were predominately women (49/51, 96%), White (48/51, 94%), and employed (42/51, 82%) participated. Intervention group caregivers had a statistically significant positive difference in Parenting Self-Agency Measure scores (P=.001). The mean postoperative pain scores were higher for the control group (mean 10.0, SD 3.1) than for the intervention group (mean 8.5, SD 3.7), both of which were still above the 6/15 threshold for clinically significant pain; however, the difference was not statistically significant (t39=1.446; P=.16). Other positive but nonsignificant trends for the intervention group compared with the control group were observed for the highest level of pain (t39=0.882; P=.38), emergency department visits (χ22=1.3; P=.52; Cramer V=0.19), and other measures. Engagement with resources linked in the texts was moderate, with all but 1 being clicked on for viewing at least once by 79% (15/19) of the participants. Participants rated the intervention as highly satisfactory across all 8 dimensions of the Client Satisfaction Questionnaire (mean 29.4, SD 3.2; out of a possible value of 32.0).

CONCLUSIONS: This cohort study with a historical control group found that Tonsil-Text-To-Me had a positive impact on caregivers’ perioperative care experience. The small sample size and unclear impacts of COVID-19 on the study design should be considered when interpreting the results. Controlled trials with larger sample sizes for evaluating SMS text messaging interventions aimed to support caregivers of children undergoing tonsillectomy surgery are warranted.

PMID:36125849 | DOI:10.2196/39617

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