Using text messaging to improve access to prenatal health information in urban african American and afro-caribbean immigrant pregnant women: Mixed methods analysis of text4baby usage

Tenya M. Blackwell, Le Conte J. Dill, Lori A. Hoepner, Laura A. Geer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: The Text4baby (T4B) mobile health (mHealth) program is acclaimed to provide pregnant women with greater access to prenatal health care, resources, and information. However, little is known about whether urban African American and Afro-Caribbean immigrant pregnant women in the United States are receptive users of innovative health communication methods or of the cultural and systematic barriers that inhibit their behavioral intent to use T4B. Objective: This study aimed to understand the lived experiences of urban African American and Afro-Caribbean immigrant pregnant women with accessing quality prenatal health care and health information; to assess usage of mHealth for seeking prenatal health information; and to measure changes in participants' knowledge, perceptions, and behavioral intent to use the T4B mHealth educational intervention. Methods: An exploratory sequential mixed methods study was conducted among pregnant women and clinical professionals for a phenomenological exploration with focus groups, key informants, interviews, and observations. Qualitative themes were aligned with behavioral and information technology communications theoretical constructs to develop a survey instrument used. repeated-measures pre- and post-test design to evaluate changes in participants' knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs, of mHealth and T4B after a minimum of 4 weeks' exposure to the text message-based intervention. Triangulation and mixing of both qualitative and quantitative data occurred primarily during the survey development and also during final analysis. Results: A total of 9 women participated in phase 1, and 49 patients signed up for T4B and completed a 31-item survey at baseline and again during follow-up. Three themes were identified: (1) patient-provider engagement, (2) social support, and (3) acculturation. With time as a barrier to quality care, inadequate patient-provider engagement left participants feeling indifferent about the prenatal care and information they received in the clinical setting. Of 49 survey participants, 63% (31/49) strongly agreed that T4B would provide them with extra support during their pregnancy. On a Likert scale of 1 to 5, participants' perception of the usefulness of T4B ranked at 4.26, and their perception of the compatibility and relative advantage of using T4B ranked at 4.41 and 4.15, respectively. At follow-up, there was a 14% increase in participants reporting their intent to use T4B and a 28% increase from pretest and posttest in pregnant women strongly agreeing to speak more with their doctor about the information learned through T4B. Conclusions: Urban African American and Afro-Caribbean immigrant pregnant women in Brooklyn endure a number of social and ecological determinants like low health literacy, income, and language that serve as barriers to accessing quality prenatal health care and information, which negatively impacts prenatal health behaviors and outcomes. Our study indicates a number of systematic, political, and other microsystem-level factors that perpetuate health inequities in our study population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere14737
JournalJMIR mHealth and uHealth
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020



  • Disparities
  • Health information
  • MHealth
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal health
  • Text messaging
  • Text4baby

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics

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