Initial outcomes from a 4-week follow-up study of the Text4baby program in the military women's population: randomized controlled trial.
BACKGROUND: The use of mobile phone technologies for health promotion and disease prevention has advanced rapidly in recent years. Text4baby is a theory-based mobile health (mHealth) program in which text messages are delivered to pregnant women and new mothers to improve their health care beliefs and behaviors and improve health status and clinical outcomes. Recent evaluations of Text4baby have found that it improves targeted health attitudes and beliefs, but effects on behavior have not yet been determined.
OBJECTIVE: In this study, investigators aimed to evaluate Text4baby in the military women's population.
METHODS: Investigators conducted a randomized controlled trial at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Washington, from December 2011 through September 2013. All participants were pregnant women first presenting for care at Madigan. Investigators conducted a baseline assessment using a 24-item, self-administered online survey of attitudes and behaviors related to Text4baby message content. Participants were randomized to Text4baby plus usual care (intervention) or usual care alone (control). Investigators analyzed treatment effects of Text4baby on short-term targeted outcomes 4 weeks post enrollment.
RESULTS: For this study, 943 patients were randomized and completed a baseline assessment. The average patient age was 28 years and nearly 70% self-identified as Caucasian. 48.7% of enrollees (459/943) completed the first follow-up assessment. Higher rates of single and working/in-school patients dropped out of the intervention arm of the study, and we adjusted for this finding in subsequent models. However, while investigators were unable to re-survey these participants, only 1.9% of Text4baby enrollees (18/943) dropped the service during the study period. Adjusted and unadjusted logistic generalized estimating equation models were developed to assess intervention effects on measured outcomes. In the model adjusting for age, marital status, having had a previous baby, and race/ethnicity, there was a significant effect of Text4baby intervention exposure on increased agreement with belief in the importance of taking prenatal vitamins (OR 1.91, 95% CI 1.08-3.34, P=.024). All of these attitudes had been targeted by at least one text message during the 4-week evaluation period examined in this study. In unadjusted models, there was a significant effect of intervention exposure on belief in the importance of visiting a health care provider to be a healthy new mother (OR 1.52, 95% CI 1.01-2.31, P=.046) and in the health risks of alcohol during pregnancy (OR 2.06, 95% CI 1.00-4.31, P=.05). No behavioral effects of the intervention were observed in this analysis.
CONCLUSIONS: Text4baby is a promising program that offers lessons for future mHealth activities. This large-scale study demonstrated initial effects of the program on attitudes and beliefs targeted by the messages received by women during the study period. Results confirm previous findings from Text4baby studies and other mHealth research. Future analyses will examine dosage effects of the intervention on behaviors and clinical outcomes.
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