Study Tests Limits of Public Health Texting Efficacy


By: Comstock, Jonah


Text messaging is not an effective way to change the minds of pregnant women who do not intend to get the influenza vaccine, according to a new study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The researchers studied 158 urban, low-income pregnant women, who received health text messages regularly about pregnancy. However, only the intervention group received text messages specifically educating and instructing them about the flu vaccine. Still, for both groups, only 32 percent of women got the vaccine. The stated reasons for not receiving the vaccine were fear of vaccine side effects (23 percent), a dislike of shots (15 percent), and a previous bad experience with the flu vaccine (15 percent). Text messaging might not be the best tool to persuade people to do things. “Despite these concerns, more than half [of the study participants] reported that they would get or consider getting the flu shot if it were recommended to them by their prenatal care provider,” wrote study author Dr. Michelle Moniz in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.

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