Citation: Partridge SR *, Raeside R, Latham Z, Singleton AC, Hyun K, Grunseit A, Steinbeck K, Redfern J. ‘Not to be harsh but try less to relate to 'the teens' and you'll relate to them more’: co-designing obesity prevention text messages with adolescents. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 4887; doi:10.3390/ijerph16244887



Text messages remain a preferred way for adolescents to communicate, and recent evidence suggests adolescents would like access to digital healthcare options. However, there is limited evidence for text messages to engage adolescent populations in obesity prevention behaviors. We aimed to co-design a bank of text messages that are evidence-based, acceptable, and engaging for adolescents.

An established iterative mixed methods process, consisting of three phases, was used to develop the text message program. The first bank of 145 text messages was drafted based on current evidence, behavior change techniques, and input from researchers and health professionals. A survey was then administered to adolescents and professionals for review of text message content, usefulness, understanding, and age-appropriateness. An adolescent research assistant collaborated with the research team on all three phases.

Forty participants (25 adolescents and 15 professionals) reviewed the initial bank of 145 text messages. On average, all reviewers agreed the text messages were easy to understand (13.6/15) and useful (13.1/15). In total, 107 text messages were included in the final text message bank to support behavior change and prevent obesity. This study may guide other researchers or health professionals who are seeking to engage adolescents in the co-design of health promotion or intervention content.

Effectiveness of the text message program will be tested in a randomized controlled trial.

About The Authors


Dr Stephanie Partridge is an Early Career Researcher and Accredited Practising Dietitian. Her resear...


Kate Steinbeck is an endocrinologist and adolescent physician, and Professor and Medical Foundation ...