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Reach out emergency department: Partnering with an economically disadvantaged community in the development of a text-messaging intervention to address high blood pressure

Document Type


Publication Date



Health Promotion and Human Performance

Publication Title

Health Promotion Practice


© 2020 Society for Public Health Education. Background. Hypertension affects nearly 30% of the U.S. adult population. Due to the ubiquitous nature of mobile phone usage, text messaging offers a promising platform for interventions to assist in the management of chronic diseases including hypertension, including among populations that are historically underserved. We present the intervention development of Reach Out, a health behavior theory–based, mobile health intervention to reduce blood pressure among hypertensive patients evaluated in a safety net emergency department primarily caring for African Americans. Aims. To describe the process of designing and refining text messages currently being implemented in the Reach Out randomized controlled trial. Method. We used a five-step framework to develop the text messages used in Reach Out. These steps included literature review and community formative research, conception of a community-centered behavioral theoretical framework, draft of evidence-based text messages, community review, and revision based on community feedback and finalization. Results. The Reach Out development process drew from pertinent evidence that, combined with community feedback, guided the development of a community-centered health behavior theory framework that led to development of text messages. A total of 333 generic and segmented messages were created. Messages address dietary choices, physical activity, hypertension medication adherence, and blood pressure monitoring. Discussion. Our five-step framework is intended to inform future text-messaging-based health promotion efforts to address health issues in vulnerable populations. Conclusion. Text message–based health promotion programs should be developed in partnership with the local community to ensure acceptability and relevance.

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