Eight RCTs (2,923 participants) were included in the review. Five trials used devices for smoking cessation interventions. Three trials were interventions targeting anxiety symptoms. Retention rates varied from 57.1% to 92% (over 80% in all except two trials). Sequence generation was reported adequately in five RCTs. Allocation concealment was described in only two trials. Outcome assessors were blinded in five trials. All trials reported losses to follow-up. One study was judged to be at unclear risk of selective outcome reporting. There was a lack of clarity on other sources of bias in five RCTs.
Smoking cessation: In one study participants who received a cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) intervention with telephone counselling for three months were more than five times more likely to achieve abstinence from smoking.
The other studies used mobile phone interventions with text messaging or personalised text messaging, interactive voice responses, internet and email reminders. Study duration ranged from four to 12 months. Retention rates ranged from 74.2% to 92%. Compared with control groups of usual care, self-help booklets and wait-list control, the intervention groups had a greater likelihood of achieving abstinence during the study time period.
Anxiety disorders: Two studies examined augmentation of CBT with a handheld computer compared to standard CBT of six weeks and 12 weeks. Treatment with CBT augmented by handheld computers led to significant reductions in panic symptoms compared to the wait-list control group but standard 12-week CBT interventions had the largest and most lasting treatment effects.
In another study a handheld computer to facilitate homework assignments in patients with social phobia was compared to a 12-session CBT programme and wait-list controls. There were no differences in the self-report measures of social phobia between the wait-list controls and the handheld computer intervention group.