Mobile Calls Lead to Fewer Meds for Orthopedic Trauma Patients
A study reported in the Journal of Medical Internet Research looked at the power of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) as delivered through an automated mobile messaging robot. Patients who had traumatic upper or lower extremity fractures received calls twice a day for 2 weeks after surgery. The messages offered ACT based interventions to “augment an individual’s psychological flexibility, thus improving their life according to 6 core cognitive processes: acceptance, defusion, contact with the present moment, self-as-context, values, and committed action.” Half of the patients in the study received the phone calls, half did not. Results showed not only a 36.5% reduction in opioid tablets used by the phone/ACT group (26 vs 41 tablets), but also a lower patient-reported pain score than control group subjects.
The study reported that, “automated mobile phone messaging robots (also called chatbots or conversational agents) are low-cost tools that can deliver predefined text-based information and receive incoming responses with high reliability” and demonstrates high efficacy. The coping skills helped patients with their postoperative pain, as demonstrated by the fact that “the intervention group reported less pain intensity and pain interference at the 2-week follow-up.” Researchers hope for a study of larger groups for longer periods of time.
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