Acceptability of delivering and accessing health information through text messaging among community health advisors

Academic Article


  • Background: Communication technologies can play a significant role in decreasing communication inequalities and cancer disparities by promoting cancer control and enhancing population and individual health. Studies have shown that technology, such as the mobile phone short message service (SMS) or text messaging, can be an effective health communication strategy that influences individuals' health-related decisions, behaviors, and outcomes. Objective: The purpose of this study was to explore usage of communication technologies, assess the acceptability of mobile technology for delivery and access of health information, and identify cancer and health information needs among Deep South Network for Cancer Control trained Community Health Advisors as Research Partners (CHARPs). Methods: A mixed-method design was used, and a triangulation protocol was followed to combine quantitative and qualitative data. Focus groups (4 focus groups; n=37) and self-administered surveys (n=77) were conducted to determine CHARPs mobile phone and text message usage. The objective was to include identification of barriers and facilitators to a mobile phone intervention. Results: All participants were African American (37/37, 100%), 11/37 (89%) were women, and the mean age was 53.4 (SD 13.9; focus groups) and 59.9 (SD 8.7; survey). Nearly all (33/37, 89%) of focus group participants reported owning a mobile phone. Of those, 8/33 (24%) owned a smartphone, 22/33 (67%) had a text messaging plan, and 18/33 (55%) and 11/33 (33%) received and sent text messages several times a week or day, respectively. Similar responses were seen among the survey participants, with 75/77 (97%) reporting owning a mobile phone, and of those, 22/75 (30%) owned a smartphone, 39/75 (53%) had a text messaging plan, and 37/75 (50%) received and 27/75 (37%) sent text messages several times a week or day. The benefits of a text messaging system mentioned by focus group participants included alternative form of communication, quick method for disseminating information, and privacy of communication. The main barriers reported by both groups to using mobile technology to receive health information were cost and not knowing how to text message. Ways to overcome barriers were explored with focus group participants, and education was the most proposed solution. Majority of CHARPs were in favor of receiving a weekly text message that would provide cancer/health information. Conclusions: The findings from this study indicate that CHARPs are receptive to receiving text messages focusing on cancer/health information and would be likely to engage in mobile health research. These findings represent the first step in the development of an interactive mobile health program designed to provide cancer/health information and a support network for the Deep South Network Community Health Advisors as Research Partners (DSN CHARPs).
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Schoenberger YM; Phillips J; Mohiuddin MO; McNees P; Scarinci I
  • Volume

  • 1
  • Issue

  • 2