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J Adolesc Health. 2012 Sep;51(3):220-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2011.11.012. Epub 2012 Feb 22.

Adolescents' perspectives on the use of a text messaging service for preventive sexual health promotion.

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1
Department of Pediatrics, Clinical Scholars Program, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA, Los Angeles, California, USA. rperry@mednet.ucla.edu

Abstract

PURPOSE:

To understand adolescents' perspectives on the use of a preventive sexual health text messaging service.

METHODS:

Twenty-six adolescents aged 15-20 years old were recruited from two teen clinics in Los Angeles County to participate in focus groups. Three focus groups were held. Discussions focused on the content of the weekly text messages sent by a service called the Hookup, as well as the acceptability of using text messaging to relay sexual health education to adolescents. Codes and themes were developed from transcripts using standard constant comparison methods.

RESULTS:

Participants enjoyed receiving weekly text messages related to sexual health. They linked their enjoyment to the message content being informative (providing relevant and new information), simple (automatically limited to small words and short phrases), and sociable (easily able to be shared with friends). Participants also pointed to the convenience and ubiquity of text messaging and generally felt that cost of messages was not a concern. Most felt that text messaging provided a sense of privacy for learning about sensitive health topics, although a few expressed concerns about stigma from peers' seeing the messages.

CONCLUSIONS:

Teens may face several barriers to accessing reliable, useful, and age-appropriate information and services for their health. The use of text messaging is an innovative way to engage teens in preventive health learning and practices. Text messaging may allow efficient delivery of health messages and may offer a discreet way for teens to learn important health information, especially for sensitive topics like sexual health.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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