Text Messaging Featured Article

Text Messaging Improves Flu Vaccination Rate Among Low-Income Children

April 27, 2012

Text messaging, which is emerging as the most efficient marketing tool among leading brands, also finds application in healthcare sector. One such use is vaccination alerts. Recent efforts by healthcare providers in this regard have helped improve vaccination efforts in hard-to-reach populations.

 A recent study by JAMA finds that a text messaging intervention with education-related messages sent to parents increased the influence of vaccination coverage in a traditionally hard to reach, low-income, urban, minority population of children and adolescents.

"Traditional vaccine reminders have had a limited effect on low-income populations; however, text messaging is a novel, scalable approach to promote influenza vaccination," researchers noted.

To evaluate the effect of targeted text messaging among low-income, urban parents, the trial was conducted on 9,213 children and adolescents ages 6 months to 18 years who were receiving care at 4 community-based clinics in the United States during the 2010-2011 influenza season.

The children and adolescents in the study were primarily minority, 88 percent were publicly insured, and 58 percent were from Spanish-speaking families. As of March 31, 2011, a higher proportion of children and adolescents in the intervention group (43.6 percent) compared with the usual care group (39.9 percent) received the influenza vaccine.

 The intervention effect was greater in a subgroup analysis accounting for delivery of text messages. This led to researchers inferring that text messaging was effective in promoting the behavioral changes leading to increased vaccination.

"Using text messaging (especially when linked with electronic health records [EHRs] or registries) to identify and notify large patient populations in need of vaccination could be an efficient means for improving influenza vaccination rates in adults as well as children and adolescents," according to authors of the research.

 "Underlying vaccination coverage overall remained low, as they do nationally, and further studies are recommended to identify ways to maximize the potential of text messaging," the researchers conclude.

A recent TMCnet article explains the best ways to use text messaging for marketing activities. Read the details here.

Edited by Stefanie Mosca
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