An SMS Text Message-Based Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Program for Hispanic Adolescents With Obesity: Qualitative Co-Design Process

JMIR Form Res. 2023 Aug 2:7:e46606. doi: 10.2196/46606.


Background: SMS text message-based interventions are a promising approach for reaching and engaging high-risk youths, such as Hispanic adolescents with obesity, in health promotion and disease prevention opportunities. This is particularly relevant, given that SMS text messaging is widely accessible and available and that adolescents are frequent texters. Including youths in the development of SMS text message content can lead to more acceptable and relevant messaging; however, few studies include this group as cocollaborators.

Objective: This study aimed to use a co-design process to inform the development of SMS text messages that promote healthy physical activity (PA) and sleep behaviors among Hispanic adolescents with obesity.

Methods: The co-design framework uses multiple methods across several phases. Self-determination theory and a literature review of SMS text message-based interventions guided the background and research phases. In the co-design phase, Hispanic adolescents (n=20) completed in-depth interviews to identify barriers and facilitators of PA and sleep, preferences for ways to emphasize key self-determination theory constructs (autonomy, competence, and relatedness), and suggestions for making SMS text message content engaging. In the design and content phase, interview findings were used to develop initial SMS text messages, which were then evaluated in the early evaluation phase by experts (n=6) and adolescents (n=6). Feedback from these panels was integrated into the SMS text message content during refinement.

Results: The background phase revealed that few SMS text message-based interventions have included Hispanic adolescents. Common barriers and facilitators of activity and sleep as well as preferences for ways in which SMS text messages could provide autonomy, competence, and relatedness support were identified in the co-design phase. The youths also wanted feedback about goal attainment. Suggestions to make SMS text messages more engaging included using emojis, GIFs, and media. This information informed an initial bank of SMS text messages (N=116). Expert review indicated that all (116/116, 100%) SMS text messages were age and culturally appropriate; however, some (21/116, 18.1%) did not adequately address youth-identified barriers and facilitators of PA and sleep, whereas others (30/116, 25.9%) were not theoretically adherent. Adolescents reported that SMS text messages were easy to understand (116/116, 100%), provided the support needed for behavior change (103/116, 88.8%), and used mostly acceptable language (84/116, 72.4%). Feedback was used to refine and develop the final bank of 125 unique text messages.

Conclusions: Using a co-design process, a theoretically grounded, appealing, and relevant bank of SMS text messages promoting healthy PA and sleep behaviors to adolescents was developed. The SMS text messages will be further evaluated in a pilot study to assess feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy. The co-design process used in this study provides a framework for future studies aimed at developing SMS text message-based strategies among high-risk adolescents.

International registered report identifier (irrid): RR2-10.1016/j.cct.2023.107117.

Keywords: Hispanic health; adolescents; digital health; mobile phone; physical activity; sleep; smartphone; type 2 diabetes.