Patient-Clinician Mobile Communication: Analyzing Text Messaging between Adolescents with Asthma and Nurse Case Managers



With the increasing penetration of digital mobile devices among adolescents, mobile texting messaging is emerging as a new channel for patient-clinician communication for this population. In particular, it can promote active communication between healthcare clinicians and adolescents with asthma. However, little is known about the content of the messages exchanged in medical encounters via mobile text messaging. Therefore, this study explored the content of text messaging between clinicians and adolescents with asthma.


We collected a total of 2,953 text messages exchanged between 5 nurse case managers and 131 adolescents with asthma through a personal digital assistant. The text messages were coded using a scheme developed by adapting categories from the Roter Interaction Analysis System.


Nurse case managers sent more text messages (n=2,639) than adolescents with asthma. Most messages sent by nurse case managers were targeted messages (n=2,475) directed at all adolescents with asthma, whereas there were relatively few tailored messages (n=164) that were created personally for an individual adolescent. In addition, both targeted and tailored messages emphasized task-focused behaviors over socioemotional behaviors. Likewise, text messages (n=314) sent by adolescents also emphasized task-focused over socioemotional behaviors.


Mobile texting messaging has the potential to play an important role in patient-clinician communication. It promotes not only active interaction, but also patient-centered communication with clinicians. In order to achieve this potential, healthcare clinicians may need to focus on socioemotional communication as well as task-oriented communication.

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Notes/Citation Information

Published in Telemedicine and e-Health, v. 21, no. 1, p. 62-69.

© Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.

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Funding Information

This research was supported by RO1 NR010241 from the National Institute of Nursing Research.