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Concept: Instant messaging


OBJECTIVES: The objective of the present work was to study the impact of technological and social distraction on cautionary behaviours and crossing times in pedestrians. METHODS: Pedestrians were observed at 20 high-risk intersections during 1 of 3 randomly assigned time windows in 2012. Observers recorded demographic and behavioural information, including use of a mobile device (talking on the phone, text messaging, or listening to music). We examined the association between distraction and crossing behaviours, adjusting for age and gender. All multivariate analyses were conducted with random effect logistic regression (binary outcomes) and random effect linear regression (continuous outcomes), accounting for clustering by site. RESULTS: Observers recorded crossing behaviours for 1102 pedestrians. Nearly one-third (29.8%) of all pedestrians performed a distracting activity while crossing. Distractions included listening to music (11.2%), text messaging (7.3%) and using a handheld phone (6.2%). Text messaging, mobile phone use and talking with a companion increased crossing time. Texting pedestrians took 1.87 additional seconds (18.0%) to cross the average intersection (3.4 lanes), compared to undistracted pedestrians. Texting pedestrians were 3.9 times more likely than undistracted pedestrians to display at least 1 unsafe crossing behaviour (disobeying the lights, crossing mid-intersection, or failing to look both ways). Pedestrians listening to music walked more than half a second (0.54) faster across the average intersection than undistracted pedestrians. CONCLUSIONS: Distracting activity is common among pedestrians, even while crossing intersections. Technological and social distractions increase crossing times, with text messaging associated with the highest risk. Our findings suggest the need for intervention studies to reduce risk of pedestrian injury.

Concepts: Observation, Behavior, Human behavior, Mobile phone, Text messaging, Pedestrian, Distraction, Instant messaging


Modern technologies not only provide a variety of communication modes (e.g., texting, cell phone conversation, and online instant messaging), but also detailed electronic traces of these communications between individuals. These electronic traces indicate that the interactions occur in temporal bursts. Here, we study intercall duration of communications of the 100,000 most active cell phone users of a Chinese mobile phone operator. We confirm that the intercall durations follow a power-law distribution with an exponential cutoff at the population level but find differences when focusing on individual users. We apply statistical tests at the individual level and find that the intercall durations follow a power-law distribution for only 3,460 individuals (3.46%). The intercall durations for the majority (73.34%) follow a Weibull distribution. We quantify individual users using three measures: out-degree, percentage of outgoing calls, and communication diversity. We find that the cell phone users with a power-law duration distribution fall into three anomalous clusters: robot-based callers, telecom fraud, and telephone sales. This information is of interest to both academics and practitioners, mobile telecom operators in particular. In contrast, the individual users with a Weibull duration distribution form the fourth cluster of ordinary cell phone users. We also discover more information about the calling patterns of these four clusters (e.g., the probability that a user will call the c®-th most contact and the probability distribution of burst sizes). Our findings may enable a more detailed analysis of the huge body of data contained in the logs of massive users.

Concepts: Mobile phone, Internet, Text messaging, Mobile network operator, Cellular network, Push-button telephone, Instant messaging, GSM


Following male circumcision for HIV prevention, a high proportion of men fail to return for their scheduled seven-day post-operative visit. We evaluated the effect of short message service (SMS) text messages on attendance at this important visit.

Concepts: Randomized controlled trial, Mobile phone, Text messaging, Message, Circumcision, Short Message Service, SMS, Instant messaging


The Internet provides a platform to access health information and support self-management by consumers with chronic health conditions. Despite recognized barriers to accessing Web-based health information, there is a lack of research quantitatively exploring whether consumers report difficulty finding desired health information on the Internet and whether these consumers would like assistance (ie, navigational needs). Understanding navigational needs can provide a basis for interventions guiding consumers to quality Web-based health resources.

Concepts: Psychology, World Wide Web, Internet, Web application, Usenet, MySpace, Instant messaging, Stanford University


There are concerns about the safety of texting while walking. Although evidence of negative effects of mobile phone use on gait is scarce, cognitive distraction, altered mechanical demands, and the reduced visual field associated with texting are likely to have an impact. In 26 healthy individuals we examined the effect of mobile phone use on gait. Individuals walked at a comfortable pace in a straight line over a distance of ∼8.5 m while; 1) walking without the use of a phone, 2) reading text on a mobile phone, or 3) typing text on a mobile phone. Gait performance was evaluated using a three-dimensional movement analysis system. In comparison with normal waking, when participants read or wrote text messages they walked with: greater absolute lateral foot position from one stride to the next; slower speed; greater rotation range of motion (ROM) of the head with respect to global space; the head held in a flexed position; more in-phase motion of the thorax and head in all planes, less motion between thorax and head (neck ROM); and more tightly organized coordination in lateral flexion and rotation directions. While writing text, participants walked slower, deviated more from a straight line and used less neck ROM than reading text. Although the arms and head moved with the thorax to reduce relative motion of the phone and facilitate reading and texting, movement of the head in global space increased and this could negatively impact the balance system. Texting, and to a lesser extent reading, modify gait performance. Texting or reading on a mobile phone may pose an additional risk to safety for pedestrians navigating obstacles or crossing the road.

Concepts: Mobile phone, Walking, Locomotion, Text messaging, Pedestrian, SMS, Instant messaging, Equilibrioception


Nonadherence is a major concern in the management of chronic conditions such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes where patients may discontinue or interrupt their medication for a variety of reasons. Text message reminders have been used to improve adherence. However, few programs or studies have explored the benefits of text messaging with older populations and at scale. In this paper, we present a program design using tailored and interactive text messaging to improve refill rates of partially adherent or nonadherent Medicare members of a large integrated health plan.

Concepts: Medicine, Health insurance, Mobile phone, Text messaging, SMS, Instant messaging


Adherence to long-term therapies in chronic disease is poor. Traditional interventions to improve adherence are complex and not widely effective. Mobile telephone text messaging may be a scalable means to support medication adherence.

Concepts: Medicine, Chronic, Mobile phone, Rotary dial, Text messaging, Push-button telephone, Instant messaging


Social networking sites such as Facebook have become immensely popular in recent years and present a unique opportunity for researchers to eavesdrop on the collective conversation of current societal issues.

Concepts: Web 2.0, Social network service, MySpace, Instant messaging, Facebook, Online social networking


Mobile text messaging and medication monitors (medication monitor boxes) have the potential to improve adherence to tuberculosis (TB) treatment and reduce the need for directly observed treatment (DOT), but to our knowledge they have not been properly evaluated in TB patients. We assessed the effectiveness of text messaging and medication monitors to improve medication adherence in TB patients.

Concepts: Tuberculosis, Knowledge, Mobile phone, Text messaging, Instant messaging, Monitor


Daily self-monitoring of diet and physical activity behaviors is a strong predictor of weight loss success. Text messaging holds promise as a viable self-monitoring modality, particularly among racial/ethnic minority populations.

Concepts: Obesity, United States, United Kingdom, Weight loss, Instant messaging