Patient groups support text messaging for HIV testing
In a project to promote HIV testing in the workplace, researchers concluded the following:
- Firstly, text messaging is a well received way to motivate people to take HIV tests and follow-up action
- Secondly, 95 per cent of people were inspired to make positive changes and take action on their health
- Lastly, the high opt-in level for texts of nearly 60 per cent shows it is feasible to offer text messaging with health information
Using text messages for health behaviour change
In the age of the smartphone, it might be tempting to overlook how useful text messages can still be in digital health. Although the technology has been available for decades, texts have played an increasingly sophisticated role in mobile health. Furthermore health psychologists, for example, have embraced the power of targeting texts to drive specific behaviour change based on the profiles of individuals. Public Health England has now funded a project to use text messaging to support workplace events designed to engage one audience that is particularly hard to reach:– low-wage shift workers on long hours.
Making HIV testing convenient
Furthermore, in the Public health England funded project the text messages followed up participants after a workplace event on HIV testing with a carefully paced series of 15 text messages. There was high interest in the text messages with nearly 60 per cent opting in, and a low drop-off rate.
Overall, most participants welcomed HIV testing in the workplace:
- 52 per cent of those who took part in the workplace events took an HIV test
- 72 per cent of participants had never taken an HIV test before.
Two participants summed up why they welcomed the idea:
“…I think people are not proactive in asking for it. I think if you go to the people and offer it, people would accept it”
“It’s a good idea. It’s like you’re normalising it”
Text messaging to embed behaviour change
Following on, Leicestershire AIDS Support Services (LASS) is one of the groups behind the project. The organisation advocates for HIV patients and offers a range of practical and emotional support.
Commenting on the research they cited the impact of text messaging to change behaviour:
“Not only do our findings demonstrate how acceptable providing an HIV test is in a workplace, we also discovered that 95 per cent of participants who received the follow up text messaging service were inspired to make a positive change to their own lives to better protect their own health.”
Download the University of Nottingham’s evaluation of the project, including the text messaging support.
Read an overview of the workplace HIV testing project.
Find out more about Leicestershire AIDS Support Services (LASS).