Text messaging as a community-based survey tool: A pilot study

Tammy Chang*, Weyinshet Gossa, Adam Sharp, Zachary Rowe, Lauren Kohatsu, Enesha M. Cobb, Michele Heisler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Results: In our study sample (n = 20), 90% of participants were female, and 100% were African American, with a median age of 30.7 years. Participants responded to 72% (1092/1512) of all multiple choice questions sent by text message and 76% (55/72) of the questions requiring responses on Likert-like scales. Content of responses on the paper and text message surveys did not differ. All participants reported in the focus group that they preferred text message surveys over other survey modalities they have used in the past (paper, phone, internet, in-person) due to ease and convenience.

Conclusion: Text messaging is not only acceptable and feasible but is the preferred method of collecting real-time survey data in a low-income urban African-American community.

Background: It is not known whether using text messaging to administer real-time survey questions is feasible and acceptable among low-income, urban African American adults.

Methods. We used a mixed methods approach including paper surveys, surveys administered by text message, and a focus group. Survey questions that included multiple choice, Likert-like scales, and open ended questions were administered by paper and sent via text message daily during varied times of day for six weeks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number936
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - 8 Sep 2014


  • Community assessment
  • Community-based participatory research
  • Low-income community
  • Pilot study
  • Survey
  • Text message


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