Online Program

Meet Them Where They Text: Implementing a Texting-for-Health Program at Ballard High School in Seattle, Washington

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 12:50 p.m. - 1:10 p.m.

Tara Bostock, MA, MPHc, Community-Oriented Public Health Practice Program, Health Services Department, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Hilary Karasz, PhD, Communications Department, Public Health--Seattle & King County, Seattle, WA
Hendrika Meishke, MPH, PhD, Department of Health Services, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
background Due to the ubiquity of its use in teen populations, texting offers an innovative way for school-based health centers (SBHC) to reach teens with health promotion messaging.

methods A text messaging program was implemented in collaboration with the SBHC at Ballard High School in Seattle, Washington. The program was advertised in the SBHC and health classes. Students received two messages a week for 9-10 weeks. Topics included nutrition, physical activity, stress management, and drugs and alcohol, along with announcements from the health clinic. Some messages included information specific to the school and the Ballard area, including nearby produce stands and physical activity opportunities. These messages were intended to increase self-efficacy around performing healthy behaviors.

results Eighty-three students completed the program. In a post-program survey (43 respondents), about 86% of students reported that they “often” or “always” read the messages. A majority reported that the messages taught them something new about the subject(s) they chose, they enjoyed receiving the text messages, and they would sign up for the program again. More than 75% of students reported using the information or advice provided in the messages “sometimes,” “often,” or “always.” In terms of types of messages students received, they rated “facts” as most useful and “Ballard-specific suggestions” as second most useful.

conclusion Students liked and benefited from the text messaging program. The program offers a model that other SBHCs can use to run their own programs.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Communication and informatics
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Program planning

Learning Objectives:
Define a texting-for-health program. Compare different types of text messages aimed at high school students. Describe best practices for running a texting-for-health program through a school-based health center. Explain the benefits and costs of running a texting-for-health program through a school-based health center. Design a texting-for-health program for a school-based health center.

Keyword(s): School-Based Health, Communication Technology

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an MPH student in the Community-Oriented Public Health Practice program at University of Washington, and I have an MA in communications design. I studied health communications in my current program, and as my Capstone Project, I ran a texting-for-health program at Ballard High School in Seattle, Washington, through the school-based health center.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.