HealthyhornsTXT: A Text-Messaging Program to Promote College Student Health and Wellness


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Abstract

Objective: Text-messaging interventions positively affect health behaviors, but their use on college campuses has been limited. Text messaging serves as a relatively affordable way to communicate with large audiences and is one of the preferred modes of communication for young adults. This study examined the feasibility and acceptability of a campus-wide, health text–messaging program. Participants: The subscriber pool consisted of approximately 6,000 undergraduate students from a large, southern university. From that pool, 1,095 participants (64% female; 41% White) completed a posttest survey. Method: Text messages covered a range of health topics and information about campus resources. Research was conducted from August through December 2015. Process data were collected throughout the semester; participants’ attitudes were assessed via an online survey at the program’s conclusion. Results: Students demonstrated engagement with the messages throughout the semester as evidenced by replies to text-back keywords and clicks on website links embedded within messages. Messages about sleep, stress management, and hydration were considered most relevant. The majority of participants (61%) reported increased awareness regarding their health. Conclusions: Text-messaging interventions are a feasible strategy to improve college student health.

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