Use of Text Messaging Services to Promote Health Behaviors in Children

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Abstract

Objective:

To examine adherence to, satisfaction with, and preliminary efficacy of mobile phone short message service (SMS) to promote health behaviors in school-aged children.

Methods:

A total of 49 children (aged 8–10 years) were randomized by school classes into a monitoring vs no-monitoring group. All children participated in 2 educational group sessions that focused on health behaviors: the advantages of increasing fruit and vegetable consumption and physical activity, and decreasing screen time. The monitoring group also reported daily behavior using SMS and received supportive feedback for 8 weeks.

Results:

Children submitted 61% of the required SMS, which indicated good adherence to the intervention. A number of children (95%) reported being satisfied with the program. Analyses of covariance indicated increase in fruit and vegetable consumption (χ2 [2] = 7.27; P < .05) and a decrease in screen time (χ2 [2] = 6.79; P < .05).

Conclusions and Implications:

The current SMS intervention was a useful tool to monitor and promote health behaviors in children.

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