Abstract P095: What R U Eating: A Pilot Study Using Text Messaging to Track Adolescent Behavior Habits in a High School Setting
Introduction: The purpose of this study was to examine the feasibility of using short messaging services (SMS) technology with students enrolled in HealthCorps’ school program.
Hypothesis: We hypothesized that students would participate in SMS testing surveying for at least 2 weeks without significant dropouts.
Methods: Participants were recruited from two study site: 1) Humanities Prep/Baldwin Academy in New York, New York and 2) Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington, District of Columbia by HealthCorp Coordinators. Eligibility criteria included being 13-18 years old, enrolled in the HealthCorp program, and owning a cell phone with text messaging capabilities. After consenting, students were given a short demographic and health behavior questionnaire. Students were then queried via text message each weekday for 45 days regarding their intake of fruits, vegetables, and beverages as well as their daily exercise. Descriptive statistics were used to assess the data distribution. If a comparison group was identified, differences in continuous variables between the groups were tested using t tests.
Results: The study sample included 57 adolescents from both school; 28 from Humanities Prep/Baldwin Academy and 29 from Woodrow Wilson. The majority of the respondents were 15 years old or older and they were equally divided by sex. According to the national average of fruit and vegetable intake for adolescents 12-18 years old by gender (NHANES 2009-2010), study participants had similar intakes. On average, students exercised 28 minutes per day at each study site. A subpopulation of those who responded to 50% or more of the survey queries was analyzed. This subpopulation was statistically more likely to exercise (p=0.0087), and more likely to eat fruits and vegetables (p=0.0032 and p=0.0201 respectively) if they ate dinner at home. They were also more likely to eat vegetables (p=0.0235) if they helped prepare their dinner. Non-responders were more likely to eat out compared to those who responded to the survey (p=0.04).
Conclusion: Several feasibility studies using mobile phones to assess dietary intake have been conducted. However, the duration of these studies were short and insufficient to capture habitual data. This study provides an innovative approach to capturing and understanding adolescents and their behaviors over a long duration (45 days). The generalizability of these results is limited by the small sample size of this pilot study. The use of text messaging as a research tool in a high school setting presents opportunities and challenges. Further research is needed to address the challenges associated with using text messaging for research in a secondary school-based environment.
Author Disclosures: L. Dotson: None. R. Draper: None. W. Beckner: None. E.D. Irvin: None. S.G. Hayes: None. W. Zhang: None. N. Narang: None. J. Ives: None.
- © 2015 by American Heart Association, Inc.