Vodopivec-Jamsek, de Jongh, Gurol-Urganci, Atun, and Car (2012) conducted a study to assess the use of mobile phone messaging as an intervention method aimed at delivering preventive health care and to estimate the outcomes of such interventions for the recipients’ health status and health behaviors. The research problem encompasses a range of issues associated with discovering and employing new channels and methods of delivering preventive health care. This problem is part of a bigger issue of applying modern technologies to current healthcare-related problems. Vodopivec-Jamsek et al. (2012) pursue answering the question of whether mobile phone messaging can contribute to the achievements and positive effects of preventive health care initiatives and activities. The authors support the relevance of the study and their point by suggesting certain types of interventions for research purposes in the given study: short message service (SMS) and multimedia message service (MMS).
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The authors’ objective was to demonstrate through a study that mobile phone messaging interventions can be an effective tool for preventive health care, i.e. make positive contributions to the health status and health behaviors of the recipients. Vodopivec-Jamsek et al. (2012) conducted a vast, comprehensive review of relevant academic literature to assess research methods, findings, and conclusions made in this area. The review was aimed at identifying the strengths and weaknesses of research in this area and accumulating evidence to either confirm or disconfirm the hypothesis that mobile phone messaging can be an effective preventive health care intervention. As a result, limited evidence was found, but more importantly, the authors identified key difficulties and challenges of studying the given sphere, pointed out some flaws in research methods, and highlighted the importance of further research.
Research Methods Evaluation
Vodopivec-Jamsek et al. (2012) conducted a literature review of seven scholarly healthcare-related journals for a period of 16 years, 1993 to 2009. Moreover, in the articles that had been found relevant for the study, the articles that they referred to were studied, too. The authors included in the review of any academic sources that described randomized controlled trials, quasi-randomized controlled studies, controlled before-after studies, and interrupted time-series studies (Vodopivec-Jamsek et al., 2012). All the studies of interest addressed in one way or another the issues of using SMS and MMS for preventive health care delivery. However, studies that considered the effects of a wider range of technologies were excluded from the literature review because, in such studies, it can be challenging or impossible to separate the outcomes of using SMS and MMS from the outcomes of using other types of interventions. For the purpose of collecting diverse data, the literature review also included so-called grey literature, which is constituted by materials produced by organizations outside of traditional academic publishing and distributed through different channels.
The research is current and relevant to the health care issues existing today because it turns to one of the most daunting problems of health care delivery in the modern world: how the technological progress can provide health care practitioners with more effective and more efficient tools for delivery. For example, the issue of using new media, such as social networking services, and smartphones—with their extended capabilities of remote communication—for improving the practice in the spheres of nursing care and patient education has received extensive academic attention within recent years. Similarly, examinations of the effect of SMS and MMS interventions on preventive health care achievements are associated with the improvement of a major health issue through an accessible and cost-effective tool. If it is observed that messaging interventions can contribute to better health statuses and behaviors, this will be a basis for creating guidelines and recommending the use of such interventions in various preventive health care initiatives.
Sampling is a crucial component of a study because an incorrect or inadequate sample undermines the validity and reliability of the study, e.g. by damaging the applicability and recognizability of collected data. Vodopivec-Jamsek et al. (2012) include a number of scholarly journals in their sample providing a broad area for textual analysis. Sampling can be regarded as appropriate because all the journals on the list are reputable and multifaceted healthcare-related sources. A study of a particular phenomenon through reviewing the coverage of the phenomenon in the sources used in the given study within a period of 16 years can be considered a sufficient literature review. In their literature review, the authors conclude that the samples of many studied types of research were too small, which shows the lack of reliable data in the sphere of interest and the need for further research with primarily fixing the sampling aspect.
The practicality of a study can be a challenging concept because there are different levels of practicality. While some studies provide immediate practical solutions, others may suggest, for example, a new understanding or a new classification that does not bring instant changes in the practice. I believe, however, that in health care, any study should be ultimately practical. There is no such thing as a purely theoretical value in a discipline that is about healing people and alleviating their sufferings. In the given study, a very practical goal is pursued: to prove the effectiveness of a certain type of intervention. If the hypothesis is confirmed, it will allow using the intervention more extensively for the benefit of both recipients and providers (the latter benefit from the simplicity, availability, and cost-effectiveness of mobile phone messaging interventions). I believe that such a study, according to the description of its design, can turn out very helpful, as it will help improve preventive health care practices. However, the given study did not provide as much practical value as it had been able to provide due to the limitedness of obtained data.
The given study is a comprehensive examination of a narrow subject with a clear purpose of proving or disproving a certain assumption. From this perspective, it is well-designed. From the implementation perspective, the article reveals much technical information about data collection and analysis, which contributes to the study’s reliability. What I think could improve the study is adding some other research methods so that the obtained data is more diverse. Considering the study’s large scope, I believe it would be appropriate for the researchers to include another data collection tool, such as interviewing. If they had done so, the research would have been enriched by opinions and narratives collected in a primary study. This would have given the article an appealing voice of actual participants of mobile messaging interventions. Concerning further research in this area, it started to be necessary. Vodopivec-Jamsek et al. (2012) observed the inadequacy of sampling and insufficiency of collected data for making definitive conclusions on how actually helpful can SMS and MMS interventions be in preventive health care delivery. After completing the study, the authors are eligible for providing certain recommendations on how future research should be designed and conducted in order to address effectively the research question.
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For the most part, the article is written in an understandable way. The data description parts, which normally employ a kind of sociology jargon, may be challenging to read, but I would not say they are highly technical or complicated. However, I find the writing of the article somewhat vague in certain parts. The vagueness of writing can indicate a lack of the author’s understanding of a subject or an attempt to hide flaws, such as flaws in research if we are talking about academic writing. However, vagueness can also occur when an author strives to sound very smart. I think that Vodopivec-Jamsek et al. (2012) should have written the article in a more straightforward and less formal way, which I think would benefit the reader.
The article by Vodopivec-Jamsek et al. (2012) is an extensive examination of relevant academic literature for confirming or disconfirming the effectiveness of mobile phone messaging as a preventive health care intervention. Previous studies in the area were assessed from various perspectives, including the methodological perspective. It has been shown that the critiqued study employed a sufficient sample and was capable of producing practical outcomes expressed in the actual use of mobile messaging interventions in preventive health care practices and activities. The authors generally conclude that some evidence of the interventions’ effectiveness had been obtained, but it is not enough for designing guides and programs on the use of SMS and MMS in preventive health care. Further research in the area can make a significant positive contribution to preventive health care.
Vodopivec-Jamsek, V., de Jongh, T., Gurol-Urganci, I., Atun, R., & Car, J. (2012). Mobile phone messaging for preventive health care. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 12(1), 1-55.