Factors Influencing Engagement, Perceived Usefulness and Behavioral Mechanisms Associated with a Text Message Support Program

Redfern, J, Santo, K, Coorey, G, Thakkar, J, Hackett, Maree orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-1211-9087, Thiagalingam, A and Chow, CK (2016) Factors Influencing Engagement, Perceived Usefulness and Behavioral Mechanisms Associated with a Text Message Support Program. PLOS ONE, 11 (10). e0163929.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0163929



Many studies have now demonstrated the efficacy of text messaging in positively changing behaviours. We aimed to identify features and factors that explain the effectiveness of a successful text messaging program in terms of user engagement, perceived usefulness, behavior change and program delivery preferences.


Mixed methods qualitative design combining four data sources; (i) analytic data extracted directly from the software system, (ii) participant survey, (iii) focus groups to identify barriers and enablers to implementation and mechanisms of effect and (iv) recruitment screening logs and text message responses to examine engagement. This evaluation was conducted within the TEXT ME trial—a parallel design, single-blind randomized controlled trial (RCT) of 710 patients with coronary heart disease (CHD). Qualitative data were interpreted using inductive thematic analysis.


307/352 (87% response rate) of recruited patients with CHD completed the program evaluation survey at six months and 25 participated in a focus group. Factors increasing engagement included (i) ability to save and share messages, (ii) having the support of providers and family, (iii) a feeling of support through participation in the program, (iv) the program being initiated close to the time of a cardiovascular event, (v) personalization of the messages, (vi) opportunity for initial face-to-face contact with a provider and (vii) that program and content was perceived to be from a credible source. Clear themes relating to program delivery were that diet and physical activity messages were most valued, four messages per week was ideal and most participants felt program duration should be provided for at least for six months or longer.


This study provides context and insight into the factors influencing consumer engagement with a text message program aimed at improving health-related behavior. The study suggests program components that may enhance potential success but will require integration at the development stage to optimize up-scaling.

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