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Text4baby Helps Increase Moms’ Flu Season Awareness & Conversation


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Posted: 12/2/2011

Baby feetAs cold and flu season is upon us, text4baby—a free text messaging program for pregnant and new moms—shared information today from the service’s first-ever interactive educational module, showing how the service can quickly and efficiently gather important data on how moms make choices about taking steps to prevent the flu.

The goal of this new module was to introduce interactivity into the text4baby system, specifically the ability for moms to take advantage of reminders to assist them in implementing healthy behavior, as well as to gain insight into the barriers pregnant women and new moms face in deciding whether to get a flu shot. Participants were asked if a reminder system would be helpful in ensuring that they get a flu shot. The module was shared with over 100,000 text4baby subscribers in October, and was able to engage subscribers within 48 hours, showing that users are reading the texts and that there are opportunities to further engage through this channel.

“We are encouraged by the tremendous response, which tells us text4baby users want to learn more about important health topics and share a little bit about what they think,” said Judy Meehan, CEO of the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition.

Flu Module Results

A message was sent to 103,007 active text4baby users currently in the Pregnancy or New Baby protocol asking if they were planning to get a flu shot this season. More than 30,000 subscribers responded. Of those who responded, 12,755 (39.8%) reported that they had already received the flu shot this season; 9,470 (29.5%) responded that they were planning to get a flu shot, while 9,859 (31%) replied that they were not planning to get a flu shot.

Of the 9,859 who responded that they were not planning to get a flu shot, 22% indicated that they were concerned about the safety of the vaccine, 18.3% were concerned that the vaccine may actually give them the flu, 8% were concerned about the cost of the vaccine, and 14% didn’t think they needed the vaccine.

Almost 70% of the respondents (roughly 22,000 individuals) thought the flu shot was a good idea; they had either already gotten their shot or were planning to get one. Furthermore, 53.9% of respondents indicated that they wanted additional reminder messages about the flu shot. Several had already taken steps to set up an additional reminder for the 2011-2012 flu season.

“We know that the flu shot is the best protection against influenza for a pregnant woman and her baby,” said Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing assistant professor Elizabeth T. “Betty” Jordan, DNSc, MSN, RN. “By including additional messages about the flu shot and introducing interactive reminders into the text4baby service, we can help reduce obstacles to immunization and support this safe and important health behavior.”

The responses from the text4baby survey mirror similar studies focused on pregnant women and flu conducted by the CDC. In an April 2011 survey (n=1,457), 20% of participants said they were concerned about the shot’s safety for the baby and 17% worried that the shot would cause the flu. These values are almost identical to text4baby’s responses. In a November 2010 survey (n=1,396), approximately 45% of respondents had already been vaccinated against the flu. This closely parallels the nearly 40% of text4baby respondents who said they had already received a flu shot.

The flu module contributes to the growing body of information about how text4baby users interact with the service and their health beliefs and behaviors. Earlier this month, a study completed in San Diego, CA found that text4baby has had an impact on health behaviors. For example, 71% of study participants reported talking to their doctor about a topic that they read on a text4baby message.

About text4baby

Text4baby is made possible through a public-private partnership that includes government, corporations, academic institutions, professional associations, tribal agencies and non-profit organizations. Johnson & Johnson is the founding sponsor. Founding partners include the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition, Voxiva, CTIA – The Wireless Foundation, and Grey Healthcare Group (a WPP company). U.S. government partners are the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Defense Military Health System, and the US Department of Agriculture. The mobile health platform is provided by Voxiva, and free messaging services are generously provided by participating wireless service providers. Implementation partners include BabyCenter, Danya International, Syniverse Technologies, Keynote Systems, and The George Washington University. MTV Networks is a media sponsor.

This release was originally published by the National Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies Coalition and posted on Newswise.