TitleRecruiting and Retaining Participants in a School-Based Texting Program
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsWorthington, L, E. Duru, B, Lachenmayr, L, Grutzmacher, SK
JournalJournal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Date Published09/2014

Learning Outcome Participants will learn how one program has been successful in recruiting and retaining individuals in a school-based text-messaging program focusing on nutrition and physical activity. While direct nutrition education easily reaches children in schools, audiences of parents are less accessible. Maryland SNAP-Ed program developed a school-based texting program, Text2BHealthy, to reach parents of students receiving classroom-based nutrition education. Text-based programs have shown to struggle meeting recruitment goals (Whittaker et al., 2012) As a result, Text2BHealthy has explored several unique methods to enroll and retain parents throughout the school year. Methods of recruitment include in-person school events, pre and post-test surveys, posters in schools, flyers in backpacks, and incentive items printed with enrollment information. Individuals may have opted in by texting a short code or by providing their number to a staff person. These methods were evaluated using administrative data collected through the online platform used to send text messages. We utilized a self-enrollment strategy during the first of three program years, which yielded 203 participants, a 14% enrollment rate. During the second and third program years, we also collected phone numbers at events and through parent surveys, increasing enrollment to 1149 participants (25 %) in year 2 and 2470 participants (33%) in year 3 to date. More eligible parents enrolled with staff enrollment, and fewer errors in enrollment occurred. Ninety-three percent of parents have stayed enrolled to date (n=2470). When parents opt out, phone interviews are conducted (n=168) to collect program feedback. Thirty percent of those who opt-out ask to re-enroll. The examined adaptations provide practical information for organizations planning and implementing text-based programs. Funding Disclosure Funding for the SNAP-Ed program is provided by USDA in cooperation with the Maryland Department of Human Resources and the University of Maryland Extension