JMIR mHealth and uHealth (Feb 2017)

Women’s Perceptions of Participation in an Extended Contact Text Message–Based Weight Loss Intervention: An Explorative Study

  • Job, Jennifer R,
  • Spark, Lauren C,
  • Fjeldsoe, Brianna S,
  • Eakin, Elizabeth G,
  • Reeves, Marina M

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 5, no. 2
p. e21


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BackgroundExtending contact with participants after the end of an initial weight loss intervention has been shown to lead to maintained weight loss and related behavioral change. Mobile phone text messaging (short message service, SMS) offers a low-cost and efficacious method to deliver extended contact. In this rapidly developing area, formative work is required to understand user perspectives of text message technology. An extended contact intervention delivered by text messages following an initial telephone-delivered weight loss intervention in breast cancer survivors provided this opportunity. ObjectiveThe aim of this study was to qualitatively explore women’s perceptions of participation in an extended contact intervention using text messaging to support long-term weight loss, physical activity, and dietary behavioral change. MethodsFollowing the end of an initial 6-month randomized controlled trial of a telephone-delivered weight loss intervention (versus usual care), participants received a 6-month extended contact intervention via tailored text messages. Participant perceptions of the different types of text messages, the content, tailoring, timing, and frequency of the text messages, and the length of the intervention were assessed through semistructured interviews conducted after the extended contact intervention. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed with key themes identified. ResultsParticipants (n=27) were a mean age of 56.0 years (SD 7.8) and mean body mass index of 30.4 kg/m2 (SD 4.2) and were at a mean of 16.1 months (SD 3.1) postdiagnosis at study baseline. Participants perceived the text messages to be useful behavioral prompts and felt the messages kept them accountable to their behavioral change goals. The individual tailoring of the text message content and schedules was a key to the acceptability of the messages; however, some women preferred the support and real-time discussion via telephone calls (during the initial intervention) compared with the text messages (during the extended contact intervention). ConclusionsText message support was perceived as acceptable for the majority of women as a way of extending intervention contact for weight loss and behavioral maintenance. Text messages supported the maintenance of healthy behaviors established in the intervention phase and kept the women accountable to their goals. A combination of telephone calls and text message support was suggested as a more acceptable option for some of the women for an extended contact intervention.