Text4Baby Helps Make Texting Good for Your Health
One important campaign that came to our attention again this week is text4baby, a free mobile information service designed to promote maternal and child health.
We checked-in with Luisa F. Soaterna-Castañeda, Multicultural Outreach Coordinator,Text4baby, from The National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition to learn more about the campaign. Following the Q & A with Luisa, you can also learn more about the program, their 2012 State Enrollment Contest, the content of the text messages and how to follow on Twitter and Facebook.
Q & A with Luisa F. Soaterna-Castañeda, Multicultural Outreach Coordinator,Text4baby
Welcome, to GigCoin, Luisa. Please tell us a about the history of the campaign and key goals.
Text4baby was launched in 2010 by the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB). It is the first free health text messaging service in the U.S. Text4baby supports moms by providing accurate, text-length health information and resources in a format that is personal and timely, using a channel they know and use.
In addition to tracking number of users, is there a monitoring system in place for measuring the effectiveness of specific text messages? If yes, what will you be using?
Text4baby is data-driven initiative and provides its partner network with text4baby enrollment information by zip code and in real time so program and marketing strategies can be modified accordingly. Additionally, a number of formal evaluations are underway to determine text4baby’s impact on the knowledge and behaviors of its users.
How long did it take for the text4baby team to craft the messages (including the research time, etc.) Can you describe the process for us?
The development of the messages is of utmost priority for the hundreds of partners who promote the service, including public health agencies working at the federal, state, county, and city levels. In addition to ensuring medical accuracy, HMHB is committed to providing messages that are relevant, clear, understandable, and actionable by mothers of all literacy levels.
Prior to the launch of the program, HMHB held informal discussion groups with pregnant women and new moms to gauge interest in text4baby, determine topics of importance and explore the relevance and comprehension of sample messages. Simultaneously, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HMHB conducted a review of the literature and major medical guidelines to identify priority topics and critical content.
Dozens of federal agencies, national, state and local organizations provided input into the content and development. HMHB considered all feedback received and collaborated with a number of authorities in public health to determine how to move forward with each suggestion. Once developed, messages were reviewed again by experts from a range of key agencies and organizations.
Post-launch, HMHB worked with the Health Literacy Team at Emory University School of Medicine to perform one-on-one cognitive testing of a sample set of messages with the target audience. Finding from the groups and interviews helped to inform content development and revisions.
The Spanish text4baby messages were reviewed by Hablamos Juntos and the Partida Group. Focus groups with translators, linguists and medical interpreters reviewed the messages. Promotoras and pregnant women and moms with babies under 1 year also reviewed the Spanish messages for content and clarity. Both, the English and Spanish text4baby messages are constantly being reviewed and updated. This is a cyclical process that is supported by our partnering organizations.
The character-limit for text messages is 160 characters. Was it challenging to write meaningful messages in so few characters?
It was not challenging writing meaningful messages, it was challenging not including all of the information that we would like to share with text4baby participants. It is particularly tricky for the Spanish text4baby messages because the technology does not allow us to use special characters and words like año or mamá change if their respective accent marks are not used.
Text4baby users might expect to receive approximately three messages per week and at times urgent alerts or breaking news. Was there a particular rationale around deciding on three messages per week?
The rationale is that three messages per week were the perfect interval for any individual receiving the messages.
Were there other public health text messaging campaigns that served as a model to Text4baby?
Voxiva, one of our founding partners, had been doing text messaging campaigns abroad and they wanted to bring this novel technology to the United States.
What recommendations would you give to non-profits and public health providers who might be interested in developing a similar program for their target populations?
Collaboration is key and organizations must truly understand all of the details that go into building a mobile health program.
Thank you, Luisa! We wish you all continued success.
More About Text4Baby
Women who sign up for the service can text BABY (or BEBE for Spanish) to 511411 and receive free SMS text messages each week, timed to their due date or baby’s date of birth.
In its first two years, text4baby has reached more than 335,000 users and is currently working towards a goal of reaching 1 million users by the end of 2012. Text4baby had been very busy ramping up its efforts this past week in conjunction with Mother’s Day and National Women’s Health Week.
Text4baby is also launching the 2012 State Enrollment Contest that will recognize the top three states that enroll the most users between May 17-October 22, 2012. Text4baby has also partnered with the movie, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.”
Part of what makes text4baby so compelling is the fact that it is helping to educate the public on a regular basis, with short, effective and easy-to-access messages. Text messages have a limit of 160 characters, but even with such an economy of words, they can be quite powerful and educational. And, the messages meet people where they are: on the go. According to The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, “Some 83% of American adults own cell phones and three-quarters of them (73%) send and receive text messages.”
Sample text4baby messages include:
• Even if U feel great, a pregnant woman needs checkups with a Dr./midwife. To find care, call your health plan. For help with costs, call 800-311-2229.
• A seat belt protects you & your baby. Shoulder belt goes between your breasts & lap strap goes under your belly (not on or above). Wear it every time.
• If you’re anxious, depressed or feeling hopeless & don’t know where to turn, call Postpartum Support Int’l at 800-944-4773 for help & support.
• Premature babies need extra help with breastfeeding. Even if your baby can’t breastfeed at first, she can still be fed your pumped milk.
• Your baby will be here soon, & it’s time to get a car seat. The hospital won’t let you leave by car or taxi without one.
• You & anyone who cares for your baby need a whooping cough shot. The flu shot too during flu season. Call 800-232-4636 to find out where to get them.
• Your baby’s mouth needs cleaning now—even before the first tooth! Wipe your baby’s gums each day with a wet washcloth or use a soft baby toothbrush.
• Holding, talking, reading & singing to your baby help her learn. Soon your baby will coo, babble, hum & laugh back!
• See the world from your baby’s point of view! Crawl around on the floor to see where dangers are for baby. Curious babies will go everywhere!
• Need help buying food for your child? WIC provides healthy food to qualifying children up to age 5. Connect to WIC by calling 800-311-2229.
Notable too about the campaign is the ways in which an effective initiative can have a long shelf life. By adding new features and partnerships it can continue to evolve. In other words, if it’s ain’t broke, don’t fix it! And, clearly that has been the case for text4baby.
You can follow text4baby on Facebook and Twitter, and check out their videos on YouTube. And, to learn more about social media and public health messages check out the paper, Media and Social Media in Public Health Messages: A Systematic Review by K. Bruce Newbold and Sarah Campos.