Existing Text Message Services for Health

Earlier this year, the Annual Review of Public Health reported that the majority of text message interventions are effective in managing diabetes, weight loss, physical activity, smoking cessation, and medication adherence for antiretroviral therapy. The researchers had reviewed 89 individual studies published between 2009 and 2014.

There are many proven, federally-funded text messaging services for health. We found a nifty table by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, which we’ve reproduced below:

Initiative

Focus

Description

Text4baby

Maternal & Child Health

Providing pregnant women and new mothers free health text messages in English or Spanish, including information and referral timed to the stage of pregnancy or age of the baby; involves a public-private partnership with National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition and Voxiva; since February 2010, more than 650,000 people have ever enrolled in Text4baby

TXT4Tots

Child Health
(Nutrition & Physical Activity)

Providing a library of brief, evidence-based messages focused on nutrition and physical activity targeted to parents and caregivers of children ages 1 to 5, based on Bright Futures Guidelines, and available in English and Spanish; the messages can be disseminated through text messaging or incorporated in other programs

SmokeFreeTXT

Tobacco Control

Delivering 24/7 tips, motivation, encouragement, and advice about smoking cessation through text messages targeted to adults and young adults; the service is free, but message and data rates apply

QuitNowTXT

Tobacco Control

Offering a library of free and publicly available interactive text messages for adults who are ready to quit smoking; includes a delivery algorithm with day-specific quit messages that provide tips, motivation, encouragement, and fact-based information; message content can be tailored according to user-specific keywords

SmokeFree Mom

Tobacco Control

Developing a library of free and publicly available text messages for pregnant women who wish to quit smoking; the messages will be personalized, interactive, and evidence-based

Health Alerts On-the-Go

Health & Safety

Providing CDC’s health and safety information on mobile devices, including seasonal flu, H1N1 flu, public health emergencies, and other topics

Text Alerts Toolkits

Emergency Response & Prepardness

Providing a text message library for emergency preparedness and response for voluntary use by state and local agencies can use during hurricanes and floods; future topics include chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosion messages

There are likely many more since this table was published in 2014. Some public health agencies, like the Seattle King County Department of Public Health, even have a webpage dedicated to local text message resources.

If your local or federal public health department does not offer the text messaging service you need, you can create your own using Cronote. Cronote reminders can be easily adapted for health. The co-founders of Cronote are trained health professionals as well, so if your organization is looking to develop such an intervention, let us know. We’d love to help!

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