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Eval Program Plann. 2017 Oct;64:90-94. doi: 10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2017.04.001. Epub 2017 Apr 17.

Feasibility of bidirectional text messages in evaluating a text-based nutrition education program for low-income parents: Results from the Text2BHealthy program.

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Oregon State University, 118B Milam Hall, Corvallis, OR 97331, United States. Electronic address:
California State University, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, United States. Electronic address:
University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, United States. Electronic address:
University of Maryland, College Park, Columbia, MD, United States. Electronic address:
Yale University, CT, United States. Electronic address:
University of Maryland, College Park, Columbia, MD, United States. Electronic address:


Text messages are increasingly used in the delivery of health education programs. One appealing aspect of this approach is the possibility of remotely collecting participant data to use in program tailoring or evaluation. The purpose of the present study is to test the feasibility of using text messages to collect participant data. Using data from 33 texted evaluation questions sent through the Text2BHealthy nutrition education program for low-income parents (n=108-1521) response rates under different incentive and prompting strategies were examined. Response rates are generally low across a pilot year and three program years, ranging from 10-55%. While incentives seemed to be ineffective at improving response rates, results indicate that prompting participants to respond may increase response rates. Individuals who respond to an initial question are highly likely to respond to a follow-up question (88-99%) and to report positive behaviors (68-100%). Responses received through text may be unrepresentative and positively biased. Text messages may be a supplemental data collection strategy in nutrition education programs, but low response rates and response bias undermine data quality.


Mobile health; Nutrition education; Parent engagement; Program evaluation; Response rates; SNAP-Ed; Text messages

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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