Researchers evaluated the short-term effects of a mobile health service, Text4baby, on health attitudes, beliefs and behaviors targeted by the text messages.
This study provides the strongest evidence to date that text messages can reduce health risks, said lead author W. Douglas Evans, Ph.D., a professor of prevention and community health at Milken Institute School of Public Health.
The research team, led by Evans, conducted a randomized controlled trial from December 2011 through September 2013.
Investigators recruited 943 pregnant women (both active duty and family members) who first presented for prenatal care at Madigan Army Medical Center.
The study found that “targeted beliefs, including those about the importance of prenatal health care, the risk of alcohol use during pregnancy, and the importance of prenatal vitamins were more likely to improve given exposure to Text4baby.”
Text4baby is a free mobile health information service of the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB) that provides pregnant women and new moms with critical health and safety information via text message.
The content includes messages about immunization, nutrition, birth defect prevention, safe sleep, and more.
Investigators believe this research study reinforces findings from a previously released randomized evaluation by researchers at Milken Institute SPH which found Text4baby mothers were “nearly three times more likely to believe that they were prepared to be new mothers compared to those in the no-exposure control group.”
The effectiveness of the service, highlighted through these studies, confirms the benefit of texting for prenatal health, and can be viewed as a best practice for other mobile health programs, Evans says.