Feasibility of Using Short Message Service (SMS) to Collect Outcome Data in an Australian Residential Alcohol and Drug Treatment Service

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Abstract

Objectives:

Limited studies have examined the utility of short message service (SMS) for outcome data collection, and none have examined its feasibility within a realistic alcohol and other drug (AoD) treatment environment. The objective of this study was to investigate SMS outcome data collection with limited resources within an Australian residential AoD treatment setting.

Methods:

A total of 153 clients engaging in residential AoD treatment completed the study; 137 completed feasibility surveys and 19 residents completed a 16-week SMS trial utilizing an automated web-based application, which sent 4 single-items by SMS each week. Feasibility was evaluated by willingness ratings, reasons for nonengagement, proportion of consenting participants, response rates, cost and ease of implementation. The validity of single-item measures was assessed using correlational analyses.

Results:

Totally, 64.6% of participants were unwilling to engage in SMS monitoring, with the main reasons for not engaging being cost and disinterest in research. Twelve percent of participants engaged in the SMS trial, with 90.5% providing at least 1 SMS response. Although initial responses took up to 6 hours on average, subsequent items were completed within 1 to 5 minutes.

Conclusions:

In its present form, this method of data collection was not feasible within these AoD residential services. Greater resources are likely required to improve the utility and acceptability of this method.

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