Background: Text-messaging is beneficial in health promotion. Research on impact of message framing (gain- versus loss-framed) has had variable results, depending on type of behavior targeted. There is no research on framing of text-messaging to promote healthful infant feeding practices.
Methods: The purpose of this cross-sectional survey was to examine whether parents of infants aged three months or younger viewed gain- or loss-framed text messages as more helpful and which style was viewed as more likely to affect feeding practices. A secondary purpose was to determine what time of day and frequency of messaging was preferred. Parents were recruited from an urban pediatric medical clinic. PsychData was used to administer the survey. Parents rated message pairs targeting constructs of the Health Belief Model using a five-point Likert scale. Paired t- tests compared overall ratings for helpfulness and likelihood of messages affecting feeding practices between gain- and loss-framed messages. Descriptive and frequency analyses were applied to demographics and questions regarding preferred timing for receiving messages.
Results: A total of 34 parents (3 fathers and 31 mothers, mean age 26±5.5 years) completed the survey, with 41% enrolled in WIC and 29% in SNAP. There was no overall difference in helpfulness or likelihood of messages affecting feeding practices between gain- and loss-framed messages. Message style did not affect likelihood of adopting a feeding practice. However, gain framed messages relating to benefits and self-efficacy for breastfeeding were viewed more positively (mean =2.32; P=0.034; mean =1.79; P=0.041, respectively). The greatest proportion of parents (38%) preferred receiving messages once per week, and 50% preferred morning messages.
Conclusions: Framing of text messages appeared to have little effect on parents' acceptance of messages related to infant feeding practices. Parents were receptive to receiving messages from their infant's healthcare provider once per week, in the morning.
Keywords: Health promotion; infant care; pediatric obesity; text messaging.
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