American Journal of Public Health Shows How Mobile Health Campaigns Can Reach Underserved Populations


An article in the American Journal of Public Health documents how mobile health campaigns can reach undeserved populations with vital healthcare information. The article chronicles the development and execution of Text4Baby, a text initiative that provides pregnant and new mothers with nutrition and care information to help the development and birth of their children. In particular, the campaign focuses on lower-income groups who don’t have access to traditional care.

“Americans living in or near poverty are more likely to live in cell phone-only households (no fixed phone line), and those living in cell phone-only households are more likely to have experienced numerous barriers to health care,” the journal writes. In response, the CDC worked with Voxiva, Johnson & Johnson, Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies and the CTIA to create a campaign that could reach mothers on the device that every demographic has access to– the mobile phone. The journal notes that minority groups like African-Americans and Hispanic Americans are even more likely to send text messages than white Americans.

The Text4Baby campaign was promoted in communities and clinics, by flyers and press releases, over email and the web, and through media outreach. Ultimately more than 320,000 people enrolled between February 2010 and March 2012. Users received three messages a week with health information. According to the Journal

Identified topics ranged from tobacco effects on mother and infant to the importance of prenatal and well-baby care to the positive effects of breastfeeding. HHS staff prioritized topics by public health importance. Topics would be timed to the mother’s stage of gestation or the infant’s age….
The final 117 prenatal messages covered usual symptoms during pregnancy; when and how to access health care; emotional support for the pregnant woman; safety; nutrition; smoking, alcohol, and drugs; infectious diseases; labor and delivery; postnatal information; and exercise. The 147 postnatal messages focused on care for the baby according to normal developmental stages; safety, feeding, and nutrition; when and how to access health care; emotional support for the mother; immunizations; and smoking. Toll-free numbers in some messages (e.g., 1-800-311- BABY) connected callers to their respective state or local maternal and children’s health services.

Text4Baby shows just how powerful a mobile health campaign can be at reaching undeserved groups with health information. Just a few messages every week can keep at-risk populations informed about some of the important issues that affect their lives. The articles writes that in the US, “the infant mortality rate for non-Hispanic African American women is 2.4 times the rate for non-Hispanic White women.” In many cases, that comes down to a question of getting the proper information at the right time.

A mobile health campaign can literally save lives. And it does so in a way that’s convenient and hassle-free for its participants. In fact, 95% of the people who responded to Text4Baby’s survey said they would recommend it to a friend.

If you’re interested in launching a mobile health campaign of your own, check out our Health product, Mobile Commons for Health. We’ve designed a series of solutions specifically targeted to organizations trying to create behavior change, inspire medication adherence, and save lives.

Or read about some other health campaigns below that have also had life-saving results.

Other Mobile Health (mHealth) Campaigns

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