Text Messaging Improves Behavioral Research

Text Messaging Improves Behavioral Research

3 Ways Text Messaging Improves Behavioral Science Research

We’ve talked quite a bit about how text messaging software complements clinical trials, many of which are pharmaceutical or device-based. But what about social science research? These behavioral science research studies place an acute focus on thoughts, feelings, and actions taken during certain events and scenarios that occur in a participant’s daily life.

SMS is a great fit for social science research: Text messaging software caters to the unique needs of behavioral research studies by streamlining data collection, creating an atmosphere conducive to honest and accurate participant input, and increasing the ease of communication for both staff and participants. Curious to see how we can accomplish these goals through text-based messaging? Here are the top 3 ways text messaging makes an impact:

1. Text messaging enables flexible, personal communications with study participants.

The results of your study depend on participants feeling comfortable sharing their thoughts, feelings, habits and more. This is where the heart of a trial lies when there are often no biological markers to track. Creating a positive and encouraging atmosphere through continued communication should be a high priority.

SMS software gives you an opportunity to send personalized messages to study members, building rapport beyond limited site visitations. Simple words of encouragement or questions to gauge how a participant is progressing can go far. Ongoing, personalized communication allows participants to feel a higher level of investment in your study. Engaged and invested participants will provide you with the most accurate data.

Text messaging is a natural perfect fit for text-based interventions, but given the possibility of adding photos, videos, emojis, and other multi-media components to the messages, it is the most powerful communication tool to reach study participants on the device they have with them at all times.

2. Text-based reminders aren’t just for medications.

Yes, text reminders are ultra-effective as a medication reminder strategy, but it works just as well for any other action or activity you may need to illicit in your behavioral study participants. Exercise, meditation, participation in an event or activity are common in these types of studies.

For example, accurate journaling is an integral aspect of many behavioral studies. It’s important to journal in a timely manner, and text-based reminders can be a great asset in accomplishing this goal. If journaling takes place in regular, timed-out intervals, send a reminder text to all participants the morning of the journal check-in. If written accounts are triggered by other stimuli unique to each participant, send a generalized message of encouragement for your study participants to write in their journals.

3. Text messaging facilitates survey data collection for staff and participants alike.

Surveys are heavily relied upon in behavioral-based studies, and text messaging is a great way to make the process as painless as possible. Participants don’t need a smartphone to engage in text-based data collection, just a mobile device with SMS capabilities.

Participants can respond to your survey questions directly with an SMS response, using alphanumeric characters, Y/N, or their own free response. Text message data collection is efficient and effective…Most text messages are read within the first 3 minutes of receipt, so it makes sense to send your survey via text to illicit a quick response.

Many participants prefer the ease of communication that a text message provides. Texting is something they already do as part of daily life, and sending text messages (even to collect data) provides minimal to no interruption of daily activities.

The success of social science research relies on engaged and invested participants paired with high levels of communication between participants and staff. Text messaging software makes an impact on all of these crucial areas, integrating with the process to make behavioral research studies as effective as possible.

Choosing a text messaging vendor

There are a number of factors that need to be considered when choosing a vendor to assist you with your research project. While there are literally hundreds of two-way text messaging services available, many do not focus specifically on research, so it’s necessary to consider those that cover the options important to you. Research-focused text messaging software vendors should have a firm grasp of privacy and data security requirements, automatic sending of messages, automated message scheduling, the ability to collect data, and an overall level of expertise on the normal workflow process of research staff. Further, they should be able to help you navigate through your IRB process with templates, documentation, and the readiness to respond to any questions or concerns that may come up during this part of your study.

Are you looking to improve participant engagement, increase retention, integrate text-based interventions, or collect data in your behavioral research study using text messaging? If so, contact us for a free consultation, or you can get quick access to our pricing guide here.