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Text Messaging to Communicate with Employees or the Public

NWCPHP researchers based at Public Health - Seattle & King County produced a video series, providing key information for public health agencies interested in implementing text messaging programs to reach employees and/or the public.

NWCPHP researchers based at Public Health - Seattle & King County were interested in learning more about tools and techniques to improve the health in vulnerable populations.

Someone texting on their cell phoneThrough work in everyday practice, practitioners were learning about mHealth, and text messaging was becoming more and more pervasive. It seemed like an avenue worth exploring.

So, with funds from the Northwest Preparedness and Emergency Response Research Center (PERRC), researchers looked into  the factors that get in the way of public health agencies adopting this technology.

They also wanted to understand the return on investment of starting a text messaging service, as well as things legal issues and logistical concerns for such a service. Researchers also looked at audiences and how they would prefer to hear messages related to public health.

Because of the close link to practice, the research remained audience-focused. Their findings were broad in their implications for many different audiences and demographics. Despite learning that text messaging for public health purposes is more complicated than one might want, a big benefit of this research has been the increased awareness and understanding that mHealth has enormous potential and power to improve the health of communities.

The tools that this project has put out have been enormously helpful for other public health agencies as well, with a video series that includes the whys and the hows of text messaging at a public health agencies. They also gathered a lot of information about legal concerns, logistical information about costs and vendors that any health department can look into. All of these tools are available on the Public Health - Seattle & King County website.