Feasibility and Perceptions of Cell Phone–Based, Health-Related Communication With Adolescents in an Economically Depressed Area

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Abstract

We examined the feasibility and perception of cell-based (texting, voicemail [VM], and email/social media), health-related communication with adolescents in Genesee County, MI, where 22% reside below the poverty level. Results of an anonymous survey found that 86% of respondents owned a cell phone, 87% had data, 96% texted, 90.5% emailed/used social media, and 68% had VM. Most adolescents were interested in cell-based communication via texting (52%), VM (37%), and email/social media (31%). Interest in types of health communication included appointment reminders (99% texting; 94% VM; 95% email/social media), shot reminders (84.5% texting; 74.5% VM; 81% email/social media), call for test results (71.5% texting; 75% VM; 65% email/social media), medication reminders (63% texting; 54% VM; 58% e-mail/social media), and health tips (36% texting; 18.5% VM; 73% email/social media). Cell-based health-related communication with adolescents is feasible even within low socioeconomic status populations, primarily via texting. Health providers should embrace cell-based patient communication.

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