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Technol Health Care. 2014;22(1):1-11. doi: 10.3233/THC-130766.

A pilot study to assess perceptions of using SMS as a medium for health information in a rural setting.

Author information

Saveetha Medical College, Chennai, India.
Foundation of Healthcare Technologies Society, New Delhi, India.
Saveetha Medical College, Chennai, India Foundation of Healthcare Technologies Society, New Delhi, India.
Center for Global Health and Development, College of Public Health, UNMC, Omaha, NE, USA.



Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in health is not merely about technology but a means to reach various optimal outcomes across the entire health system.


The objective of this pilot study is to assess the perceptions of receiving health messages through SMS among individuals living in rural Indian settings.


A convenient sample of 100 individuals aged 18 years and above and living in rural settings of Kuthampakkam village in Chennai, a Southern part of India were enrolled during September 2013. Individuals having the mobile phone and agreeing to participate were enrolled in the study. Individuals with physical and mental challenges or involved in other clinical trials were excluded from the study. Information was gathered on the variables including socio-demographics, individual familiarity with use of technology, mobile phone usage and the perceptions of using SMS for obtaining health information. Information was gathered using a series of quantitative assessments. Descriptive analysis was performed to report means and standard deviations for the continuous variables and frequency analysis was reported for the categorical variables. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to compare the means of the various continuous variables as compared to the chi-square analysis that was performed to compare the frequency distribution for the categorical variables. All analysis was performed using SAS v9.1.


A convenient sample of 100 rural individuals was enrolled. The average age of the study participants was 34 years (SD=17), with more than half of them being males (54%; n=54), and 47% (n=47) of them had education less than high school. Results showed that more than half of the individuals had no computers either at home (61%; n=61) or work (68%; n=68). 100{\%} of them had mobile phones in their household. Text messaging was common in more than half of the study participants. Results showed that the majority of the study participants agreed that receiving calls on the mobile phones for receiving health messages would be the most preferred method. Results showed that the individuals in the age group of 21-40 years, males, with some college education, and in the income category of 50,000-1,00,000 were most likely to obtain SMS based health messages.


ICT based health programs need to be established so that the audience receives the optimal technological platform program necessary to obtain health messages. This also suggests that future research is needed to determine the population that would actually adopt the use of SMS based health interventions rather than using SMS as a tool for delivery of health information to all.


SMS; health messages; mobile health; mobile phone; practice

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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