Monitoring children’s recovery postoperatively is important for routine care, research, and quality improvement. Although telephone follow-up is common, it is also time-consuming and intrusive for families. Using SMS messaging to communicate with families regarding their child’s recovery has the potential to address these concerns. Whilst a previous survey at our institution indicated that parents were willing to communicate with the hospital by SMS, data on response rates for SMS-based postoperative data collection is limited, particularly in paediatric populations.
We conducted a feasibility study with 50 completed pain profiles obtained from patients at Perth Children’s Hospital in order to examine response rates.
We collected and classified daily average pain (0-10 parent proxy score) on each day after tonsillectomy until pain-free for two consecutive days.
We enrolled 62 participants and recorded 50 (81%) completed pain profiles, with 711 (97.9%) of 726 requests for a pain score receiving a response. Two families (3%) opted out of the trial, and ten (16%) were lost to follow-up. Responses received were classified automatically in 92% of cases. No negative feedback was received, with a median (range) satisfaction score of 5 (3-5) on a 5-point Likert scale (1 = very unhappy, 5 = very happy).
This methodology is likely to generalise well to other simple clinical questions and produce good response rates in further similar studies. We expect SMS messaging to permit expanded longitudinal data collection and broader investigation into patient recovery than previously feasible using telephone follow-up at our institution.

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