Increasing the response rate of text messaging data collection: A delayed randomized controlled trial

Ye Li, Wei Wang, Qiong Wu, Michelle Helena Van Velthoven, Li Chen, Xiaozhen Du, Yanfeng Zhang*, Igor Rudan, Josip Car

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review


Objective: To test the effectiveness of multiple interventions on increasing the response rate of text messaging for longitudinal data collection. Methods Our cohort included 283 caregivers of children aged 6-12 months who were participating in an anemia program in rural China. Using text messages to collect data on anemia medication adherence, we conducted a delayed randomized controlled trial to test multiple interventions (an additional four reminders; a ¥5.0 (US$0.79) credit reward for replying; and a feedback text message). After a 6-week pilot study with week 7 as the baseline measurement, we randomly allocated all participants into two groups: group 1 (n=142) and group 2 (n=141). During weeks 8-11, we introduced the interventions to group 1, and in weeks 12-15 the intervention was introduced to both groups. We compared the response rates between groups and explored factors affecting the response rate. Results: During weeks 8-11, the response rates in group 1 increased and were significantly higher than in group 2 (p0.05) and slightly decreased in group 1. Younger participants or participants who had children with lower hemoglobin concentration were more likely to reply (p=0.02). Sending four reminders on the second day contributed to only 286 (11.7%) extra text messages. Discussion Our study showed that multiple interventions were effective in increasing response rate of text messaging data collection in rural China. Conclusions: Larger multi-site studies are needed to find the most effective way of using these interventions to allow usage of text messaging data collection for health research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-64
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the American Medical Informatics Association
Issue number1
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Oct 2014


  • Nutrition surveys
  • Program evaluation
  • Randomized controlled trial

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