An Interactive Text Message Survey as a Novel Assessment for Bedtime Routines in Public Health Research: Observational Study

George Kitsaras*, Michaela Goodwin, Julia Allan, Michael Kelly, Iain Pretty

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
17 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Traditional research approaches, especially questionnaires and paper-based assessments, limit in-depth understanding of the fluid dynamic processes associated with child well-being and development. This includes bedtime routine activities such as toothbrushing and reading a book before bed. The increase in innovative digital technologies alongside greater use and familiarity among the public creates unique opportunities to use these technical developments in research. Objective: This study aimed to (1) examine the best way of assessing bedtime routines in families and develop an automated, interactive, text message survey assessment delivered directly to participants’ mobile phones and (2) test the assessment within a predominately deprived sociodemographic sample to explore retention, uptake, feedback, and effectiveness. Methods: A public and patient involvement project showed clear preference for interactive text surveys regarding bedtime routines. The developed interactive text survey included questions on bedtime routine activities and was delivered for seven consecutive nights to participating parents’ mobile phones. A total of 200 parents participated. Apart from the completion of the text survey, feedback was provided by participants, and data on response, completion, and retention rates were captured. Results: There was a high retention rate (185/200, 92.5%), and the response rate was high (160/185, 86.5%). In total, 114 participants provided anonymized feedback. Only a small percentage (5/114, 4.4%) of participants reported problems associated with completing the assessment. The majority (99/114, 86.8%) of participants enjoyed their participation in the study, with an average satisfaction score of 4.6 out of 5. Conclusions: This study demonstrated the potential of deploying SMS text message–based surveys to capture and quantify real-time information on recurrent dynamic processes in public health research. Changes and adaptations based on recommendations are crucial next steps in further exploring the diagnostic and potential intervention properties of text survey and text messaging approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere15524
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalJMIR Public Health and Surveillance
Issue number4
Early online date21 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 21 Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

This study is part fulfillment for the requirement of completing a PhD in Dental Public Health at the Dental Health Unit, The University of Manchester. No additional funding was received with regard to the project described in the manuscript. The research team would like to thank all participating families. Moreover, the research team would like to thank all staff members and managers of the participating general dental practices for their unique contribution and support during recruitment.

Publisher Copyright:
© George Kitsaras, Michaela Goodwin, Julia Allan, Michael Kelly, Iain Pretty.


  • Assessment
  • Bedtime routines
  • Child
  • Development
  • Digital technologies
  • Mobile health
  • P4 health care
  • Text survey
  • Well-being


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