Say my name, Say my name!

 “There are 4 billion cell phones in use today. Many of them are in the hands of market vendors, rickshaw drivers, and others who’ve historically lacked access to education and opportunity. Information networks have become a great leveler, and we should use them together to help lift people out of poverty and give them a freedom from want.”   ~ Hilary Clinton

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Hilary Clinton has very eloquently summed up the importance and power of these little mobile devices . The power of the little machine that lives in my pocket and makes noise at me, is to say the least:  AMAZING. We can now reach people that we could never have reached before, and we should use this ability to help people make improvements in their lives and in their health.

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This week as we explored text messaging  campaigns, I choose to look at smoking cessation text messaging from the California Smoker’s Helpline, 1800-NOBUTTS. Smoking cessation has always been the mystical unicorn of my practice, so illusive and hard to implement. Aside from the fact that nicotine is one of the most additive substances on earth, I struggle to understand why some people have the mental fortitude to quit cold turkey and never blink an eye, and others struggle to quit for months but are always sucked by in.

The idea of this type text messages campaign make me hopeful. Maybe for some people who are  struggling to quit these text messages will help provide the additional support needed. Maybe by reaching out and communicating with a device so close to them, so easily accessible, texting will make in needed impact to get them over the hump.  However I was disappointed by what I received. I see plenty of places for improvement with this campaign. Especially with the prevalence of texting services such as rapid sms and eztexting, I expected better depth and user interaction from this campaign. From what I gather, the emphasis is to call the hotline number and speak to a real person. Certainly there are benefits to speaking to a live person and setting goals, etc, there is still room for improvement with this texting campaign.

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While I acknowledge, there are  limited resources in public health, this program can be improved in the following ways: 

 1. Say my name! Addressing the texts with my name makes it more personal, and draws me into what is being said. (cue the destiny’s child song) 

2. Make texting interactive, ask the user to respond to questions, like how many cigarettes have you smoked today?

3. On a positive note, I like the up-beat encouraging tone of the texts, they should continue to build on this aspect.

4. Send texts on a daily basis. I enrolled for this on Tuesday, and to date I have received, 5 messages. For a subject this sensitive, and with people struggling to fight cravings on a constant basis, I think that daily reminders for why quitting is important, would be most effective.

Lastly, for your enjoyment: one my favorite PSA for smoking cessation:

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3 thoughts on “Say my name, Say my name!

  1. Good suggestions for improvement of the campaign. I agree that personalizing and tailoring the campaign would make a better connection with the person. I think in most cases, daily texts would be too much (I signed up for text4baby and the couple of texts a week are enough). But for trying to keep someone committed to quit smoking, I agree that daily reminders might work better.

  2. Great post! I completely agree with the personalization of the campaign. We generally try to assume everyone is the same with the same experiences, but this is not usually the case. Personalization would be key in getting the message across!

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