Impact of Text Message Reminders on Caregivers’ Adherence to a Home Fortification Program Against Child Anemia in Rural Western China: A Cluster-Randomized Controlled Trial

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Abstract

Objectives

To test whether text message reminders sent to caregivers improve the effectiveness of a home micronutrient fortification program in western China.

Methods

We carried out a cluster-randomized controlled trial in 351 villages (clusters) in Shaanxi Province in 2013 and 2014, enrolling children aged 6 to 12 months. We randomly assigned each village to 1 of 3 groups: free delivery group, text messaging group, or control group. We collected information on compliance with treatments and hemoglobin concentrations from all children at baseline and 6-month follow-up. We estimated the intent-to-treat effects on compliance and child anemia using a logistic regression model.

Results

There were 1393 eligible children. We found that assignment to the text messaging group led to an increase in full compliance (marginal effect = 0.10; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.03, 0.16) compared with the free delivery group and decrease in the rate of anemia at end line relative to the control group (marginal effect = −0.07; 95% CI = −0.12, −0.01), but not relative to the free delivery group (marginal effect = −0.03; 95% CI = −0.09, 0.03).

Conclusions

Text messages improved compliance of caregivers to a home fortification program and children’s nutrition.

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