Doctors in Tayside set up a mobile phone text message service combining reminders to use an inhaler with sport news, celebrity gossip, and horoscopes. The messages were sent by a "virtual friend with asthma" to 30 young asthma sufferers.
Focus groups before and after the study found that the content and style of the messages were popular with the volunteers, whose average age was 16. Many of them also developed a rapport with their virtual friend and said that they no longer forgot to use their inhalers.
Text messaging can help people with chronic health problems to "make their disease comply with their lifestyle and not the other way around," the authors conclude.