Studies Show Text Message Reminders Support Healthy Habits
Studies show SMS text message reminders help people maintain healthy habits. Interestingly, it doesn’t take too many weekly messages to positively influence people’s behavior as the three studies outlined below demonstrate. And while not everyone has a smartphone, most adults have at least a basic mobile phone, which is all it takes to receive SMS text messages.
SMS Text Message Reminders Help Young People Avoid Sunburn
The University of Queensland’s Centre for Health Services Research found that text message reminders positively influenced the behavior of young adults at risk for skin cancer. Researchers tried four variations of text messaging programs with different levels of personalization, interactivity, and message frequency. They found that just three messages weekly versus seven was optimal. Further, messages where participants were asked to reply were most effective (e.g. Dear John, have you used sunscreen today? Text back yes or no).
Over the six month period, they found that sunburn rates for participants receiving text messages went from 40.3% at the beginning down to just 7% by the end. One year after the conclusion of the study, sunburn rates were still lower (23.5%) than at the beginning of the study.
SMS Text Message Reminders Help People Lower Their Cholesterol and Blood Pressure
A six month study in Australia sought to determine whether or not text message reminders could positively influence the behavior of patients with coronary heart disease. By the end of the study, researchers found that the group of patients who received text message reminders had lowered their cholesterol, blood pressure and BMI. These patients received just four text messages per week in addition to their regular care. The messages were somewhat personalized, taking into account whether or not someone smoked, was vegetarian, etc.
The patients who received the messages said that they found the messages helpful and many replied to the messages even though they weren’t required to. For example, “Thanks for the message. I’ve been on my walk, my blood pressure is better.”
SMS Text Message Reminders Help People Lose Weight
Twenty eight participants in a twelve week weight watchers program who received motivational SMS text messages lost 4.5 pounds more on average than participants who did not receive the texts. Participants received two messages weekly with helpful information and reminders like, “Keep in the fridge a Ziploc with washed and precut vegetables 4 quick snack. Add 1 string cheese 4 proteins. Did u try it this week? Reply yes or no.” Almost 80 percent of the participants said they found the text messages helped them adopt healthy habits.
Motivational text messages and reminders can help people remember to take positive actions. If you’re starting a motivational and/or reminder text messaging campaign, take a moment to review 4 Best Practices for Mass Text Messaging Campaigns, where you’ll find helpful tips for promoting your program and for composing effective messages.