Hidden Treasure Tool in Public Health: Mass Txt Messaging

TextNow-Unlimited-Free-Texting-SMSLargeNow a day more and more people rather be texted than called. Even when you call them and leave a voicemail, many times they won’t check their message till later. Let’s just face it, the communication method has changed. We are all after the fastest and the shortest way to reach our destinations; same applies to our communication methods. The usage of phone and text messaging has increased dramatically within the last years and even in underdeveloped countries. According to B.J. Fogg, director of the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University, “mobile phones will soon become the most important platform for changing human behavior.”


Nonprofit and governmental organizations can bring knowledge directly to the developing world via cost effective text messaging techniques

Here is a great example of using SMS in Tanazia:

TExtingText messaging even trumps the radio, TV, newspaper, and internet campaigns. So why not go mobile!

Here is why I find mass text messaging campaign the future tool for public health interventions.

There are:

Accessible: can reach wide population, especially adolescents, younger adults, socioeconomically disadvantaged population, less educated young adults, and those who rent or frequently change address.

-Short: you can relay important messages in 140-160 words while avoiding losing your readers attention spam.

– Personal: You can individually tailor your message to your target population, while avoiding the discomfort of discussing sensitive topics such as HIV.

Cost-Cost effective: MSM is much cheaper than making calls and having staff to reach out to many individuals. You save time and money. MSM is as fast and cheap as sending an email, but much more intimate. It is shorter, and your audiences will see it right then and there on your phone screen.

ythinfoshareable  -Immediate communication medium:

Its instantaneous delivery makes it a powerful tool to implement behavioral changes. It overcomes the barrier of time and space. You can reach your target population despite their location or access to landlines or TV. Your message will reach them, no matter where they are, or what they’re doing! As a public health advocate, I don’t think it can get any better than that!!

Though there are many other methods to spread knowledge or advocate for changes, mobile phone is becoming the most relevant in the new age.


4 thoughts on “Hidden Treasure Tool in Public Health: Mass Txt Messaging

  1. Hi Sarah,

    Thank you for a very practical post on texting. I couldn’t agree more with the statement about people choose to text rather than speak on the phone nowaday, which in a sense shifts the mode of communication. Cell phones have increasingly become one of the most important tools in our daily life worldwide, thus slowly shaping individuals’ behaviors not just on communicating but also on the means of obtaining information (look for easy and fast ways). The reasons why mass text messaging campaigns will be successful in the realm of public health are the very same reasons why I rely so much on text messaging.

  2. Sarah, this post was very informative. I really like your use of video of images, with the text wrapping around so that there isn’t excessive scrolling. The video you featured was also very good – short, engaging, and a perfect example. I would have loved to also see an example of a 140-character health text as well, just to really drive the point home that these messages are effective :]

  3. Well researched post Sarah. Your layout really supported the content of the post and I also liked including some of your images in the body of the text. Adding the video was a effective change of pace to the post. I think your summary of features that make this tool suitable for public health is perfect for a public health audience. Adding an example as someone mentioned above would be a nice addition.

  4. Hi Sarah,
    I really enjoyed watching the video you presented along with the information on why text messaging is a powerful tool to use. The video provided a clear example of how text messages can serve as educational sources for those that are not able to see a physician as often and don’t have the financial resources to access health information online via a phone call. I liked how you emphasized how texts can be an immediate form of communication. This is very important in public health because it can serve as a channel to communicate in a timely manner with people whenever there is an outbreak and immediate response/actions is needed. As I was reading your post I was thinking about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and how it would be beneficial for public health institutions there to have access to a database of phone numbers so that text messages can be sent information the population about the outbreak in oder to prevent infection and to keep the community informed.

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