Validation of mobile phone text messages for nicotine and tobacco risk communication among college students: A content analysis
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The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Texas, United States
The University of Texas Health Science Center, School of Public Health, Texas, United States
Publish date: 2018-02-17
Submission date: 2017-09-25
Final revision date: 2018-01-10
Acceptance date: 2018-01-28
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2018;4(February):7
In the United States, young adults have the highest prevalence of tobacco use. The dissemination of mobile phone text messages is a growing strategy for tobacco risk communication among young adults. However, little has been done concerning the design and validation of such text messages. The Texas Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science (Texas-TCORS) has developed a library of messages based on framing (gain- or loss-framed), depth (simple or complex) and appeal (emotional or rational). This study validated the library based on depth and appeal, identified text messages that may need improvement, and explored new themes.

The library formed the study sample (N=976 messages). The Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) software of 2015 was used to code for word count, word length and frequency of emotional and cognitive words. Analyses of variance, logistic regression and scatter plots were conducted for validation.

In all, 874 messages agreed with LIWC-coding. Several messages did not agree with LIWC. Ten messages designed to be complex indicated simplicity, while 51 messages designed to be rational exhibited no cognitive words. New relevant themes were identified, such as health (e.g. ‘diagnosis’, ‘cancer’), death (e.g. ‘dead’, ‘lethal’) and social connotations (e.g. ‘parents’, ‘friends’).

Nicotine and tobacco researchers can safely use, for young adults, messages from the Texas-TCORS library to convey information in the intended style. Future work may expand upon the new themes. Findings will be utilized to develop new campaigns, so that risks of nicotine and tobacco products can be widely disseminated.

Georges Elias Khalil   
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, 1155 Pressler Street Unit 1330, 77030 Houston, United States
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