Simple Text Message May Encourage People to Get Vaccinated, Researchers Find | Saint-Louis news headlines
A simple text message may be able to provide the boost some people need to get vaccinated, researchers say.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that people who received text messages about the annual flu shot were more likely to get the shot. Now, some states and jurisdictions are using the same strategy to help increase vaccine coverage against Covid-19.
The research team gathered ideas from experts around the world and decided on 19 different SMS “nudges” to get the flu shot. They sent these texts to 47,306 people prior to primary care visits to two large health systems. Their findings, published in May in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that the texts increased flu vaccination rates by about 5% on average.
It wasn’t just the recall that did the trick. The most effective messages were those telling the patient that a vaccine was “reserved” or “pending”.
“It made people feel like it was theirs – that it was their shot and that they shouldn’t miss it,” said one of the researchers, Dr Mitesh Patel, national knowledge officer. behavioral studies at Ascension Health.
They tested different types of messages, including one that said, “Did you hear the flu joke? Regardless, I don’t want to spread it.
Turns out flashy or funny didn’t work out as well. People seemed to respond better to messages consistent with the professional, straightforward language typically expected of a health care provider.
The researchers confirmed their findings in a similar study of Walmart drugstore customers. This study also found that it was helpful for people to receive repeated reminders.
“The same set of messages worked at Walmart and the two healthcare systems – two totally different populations,” Patel said. “In healthcare systems, patients were about to see their doctors within the next three days, while at Walmart we were just texting patients in the community – they didn’t have the intended to come to their pharmacy – and the same message still worked. just as well. “
Texts aren’t necessarily the best forum for conversation, and Patel noted that these posts are unlikely to convince someone who is reluctant to get the vaccine for political or other reasons.
However, they may work well for groups marked by what he describes as “vaccine apathy”.
“There are probably 10% of people who are just apathetic to vaccines,” Patel said. “They’re not against it, but they won’t go out of their way to get it, and that 10% could really push us towards herd immunity.”
Bridging the gap between intention and action
Katy Milkman, a professor of operations, information and decisions at the University of Pennsylvania who helped lead the research, said the strategy could be particularly helpful in bridging the gap that often exists between people’s intentions. – like planning to get their second dose of Covid-19 vaccine – and their actions.
Data from the CDC shows that more than one in 10 people who have received a dose of a Covid-19 mRNA vaccine have not yet received their second injection. Studies have shown that Covid-19 mRNA vaccines are more effective against the highly transmissible variant Delta, or B.1.617.2, after both doses are completed.
“This is exactly the kind of strategy we would like to use to get people to receive their second vaccine – especially with this new variant, where we are really well protected if we got both doses, but not so well protected if. we just had one, ”Milkman told CNN.
The team completed their research on the flu vaccine before Covid-19 vaccines became widely available, but they intentionally chose messages that could be reused for coronavirus vaccines. Early research shows that the strategy could help reach those who still resist.
‘To make easy’
Hengchen Dai, assistant professor at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), tested the SMS strategy with the Covid-19 vaccine.
Dai and her co-author Silvia Saccardo, an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University, found that SMS reminders could increase Covid-19 vaccination rates in the UCLA health system up to 3, 4 percentage points.
While receiving any message increases the likelihood of someone making an appointment for a vaccine, Dai said it was the messages containing the proprietary language that went the extra mile.
“The language really tries to make people feel like they have a vaccine available to them, in particular,” Dai said.
Another big takeaway: “Make it easy,” she said.
All messages sent by the team included a direct link to a website where people could make their vaccine appointments.
“The general idea can be broadened,” Dai noted. “For example, instead of sending a link to a specific hospital, you can send links to other places that offer the vaccine. A company may be able to schedule automatic appointments for its employees.”
SMS and vaccine against Covid-19
With around 46% of the total United States population fully vaccinated against Covid-19, people across the United States are starting to see these kinds of messages appear on their phones.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health launched a statewide SMS campaign this month, specifically aimed at residents of areas with lower Covid-19 vaccination rates. .
“We hope to reach Oklahoma with additional information about the vaccine to help them make an informed decision about whether to receive it,” said Keith Reed, assistant commissioner of the Oklahoma Department of Health, in a press release.
Some states, like Nevada, allow people to opt for SMS reminders about their second dose of the vaccine. The CDC says that providers who do not have a system in place can offer the free text reminder service, VaxText, to the vaccinated.
Many people these days have cell phone access, but for groups that don’t, Milkman says this type of messaging could be effective through other channels, such as email, traditional mail, or mobile phones. social media.
“Welcome to New York, your vaccine awaits!” New York City posted on its Twitter account last month.
Sending an SMS can cost less than a dime – a stark contrast to the million dollar lotteries some states use to trick people into getting vaccinated.
Milkman said she is now working with a team to research the role of incentives in encouraging people to take the Covid-19 vaccine, such as those who hesitate because they fear losing their pay when they take time off work to get vaccinated.
“It’s a different kind of persuasion that you can do with one against the other,” she said.
Researchers agree that SMS reminders are just one tool in what should be a comprehensive strategy to get people vaccinated against Covid-19.
“We need all of the above at this point,” Milkman said.
™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.