Results from a pilot study published last week by the researchers at the University of Michigan Medical School demonstrated that among low-income urban African-Americans in Detroit, “text messaging is not only acceptable and feasible but is the preferred method of collecting real-time survey data” over other methods of survey including paper, phone, internet, and in-person.
The survey used in the study consisted of 14 hypothetical medical scenarios – 10 questions reflected 10 leading reasons for urgent outpatient medical visits, 4 questions reflected extreme scenarios. For example, as a follow to, “You slipped in the bathroom, injured your back, it hurts to lie down and when you bend over or twist”, participants were asked to choose between visit emergency department or ask primary care doctor or do nothing. Four weeks after the paper survey was completed, identical questions were asked by text messages. These included two text message sent per day at different times of day for 6 weeks. Each question was sent six times: twice during regular hours (8 am-4 pm), twice during off hours (5 pm-7 am) and twice during the weekend. The participant’s response was followed by a question seeking a free text explanation for the choice made.