Interactive text-surveys & text messaging in assessing recurrent dynamic behaviours

George Kitsaras, Dr Julia L. Allan, Dr Michaela Goodwin, Prof Michael Kelly, Prof Iain Pretty

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Rationale; Access and use of mobile phones have reached an all-time high with special interest groups, such as people from deprived socioeconomic areas, showing high rates of text messaging use. With paper-based assessments potentially limiting in-depth understanding of recurrent dynamic behaviours, text messages can play an important role in data collection processes. The main objective was to examine the possibility of assessing a recurrent dynamic behaviour in families with young children using an interactive text-survey. The selected behaviour was bedtime routines given their importance on child wellbeing and development. Methodology; Preliminary PPI work explored the best way to asses bedtime routines. Two versions of the interactive text-survey were developed; the first, in collaboration with a private company while the second, using secure online software platforms. The two versions of the interactive text-survey were tested with a sample of 50 and 200 parents respectively, with children between the ages of 3 to 7 years old. Samples were from predominately deprived socioeconomic areas and diverse ethnic backgrounds. Both versions included open and closed ended questions and answers using numeric scales. The text-surveys were delivered to parents’ mobile phones at a predetermined time each night for 5 and 7 consecutive nights respectively. Results; Both studies achieved excellent retention rates of 100% and 92.5%. Response rates were high in both studies (86% and 87%). Participants rated their experience in using the interactive text-surveys as very good with an average score of 4.5 out of 5. Only a small percentage (5% and 4.5%) of participants reporting problems to their routines due to the text-surveys. Both versions of the interactive text-survey allowed for the collection of in-depth data (average of 30 and 50 unique data points per participant) that led to a better understanding of the prevalence and frequency of bedtime routine activities. Conclusion; Interactive text-surveys were successful in capturing and quantifying a recurrent dynamic family behaviour while maintaining excellent retention rates, creating a good participant experience and limiting the possibility of recall bias. Further exploration of the diagnostic and potential intervention properties of text surveys and text messages within behavioural science and public health is an important next step.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOSF
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • digital health
  • assessment
  • behaviour
  • family
  • Child
  • Mobile health


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