Using text messages to improve patient-doctor communication among racial and ethnic minority adults: an innovative solution to increase influenza vaccinations

Prev Med. 2014 Dec;69:117-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2014.09.009. Epub 2014 Sep 18.


Despite the 2010 CDC recommendation that all adults receive influenza vaccinations, in the 2013-2014 influenza season, only 35% of Blacks and 37% of Hispanics were vaccinated, compared to 40% of Whites. This disparity could be due to poor patient-doctor communication, among other barriers. Doctors provide more health information to active communicators; unfortunately, they perceive minority patients to be poor communicators. A novel way to prompt minority patients to better communicate with their doctors is through mHealth. Text messaging is a simple, low cost, mHealth platform widely-used among racial and ethnic minorities. A text message campaign could be effective in providing vaccine education and prompting patients to converse with their doctors about influenza vaccinations. Text prompts could improve patient communication, thus increasing their likelihood of vaccination. This campaign could accomplish Healthy People 2020 goals: increase influenza vaccination, improve patient-doctor communication, increase use of mHealth, and reduce health disparities.

Keywords: Health disparities; Influenza; Minority health; Patient–doctor communication; Text messaging; mHealth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Communication*
  • Ethnicity
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Healthcare Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Influenza Vaccines*
  • Influenza, Human / prevention & control
  • Minority Groups*
  • Minority Health
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Racial Groups
  • Text Messaging*
  • United States
  • Vaccination / statistics & numerical data


  • Influenza Vaccines