Text Message Reminders and Their Impact on Attendance at Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education Workshops
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation
- We found no evidence to suggest that any one of the text message reminders was more effective than others (or sending no reminders) in increasing continued session attendance. Among couples who attended the first workshop session, attendance rates were high for the rest of the workshop sessions after the first one and were similar across all research groups. Most couples attended three additional sessions after the first one and missed no more than one session over the course of the workshop.
- Among couples who registered for a workshop, many did not attend the first workshop session. Only 58 percent of couples who did not receive reminders attended the first session. However, we found that simple text message reminders that provided only the date and time of the first session increased couples’ initial session attendance by about seven percent points. The simple reminders also outperformed two enhanced reminders we had designed for this study that included motivational messages, graphics, and peer testimonials.
The ability of healthy marriage and relationship education (HMRE) programs to have a meaningful impact hinges on participants’ attendance and engagement. One potential way to support attendance at HMRE group workshops is through “nudges” sent to participants. A nudge is a small, easy, and inexpensive change to an environment or to the way choices are presented. In this study, we examined the effectiveness of sending nudges through text message reminders to boost couples’ attendance at an HMRE program called ELEVATE. We used a random assignment evaluation design to measure the impacts of text message reminders on two aspects of couples’ workshop attendance: (1) continuing attendance among couples that attended the first workshop session and (2) initial attendance at the first workshop session among couples that registered for the program. We also compared the effectiveness of different types of text message reminders by varying the content of the reminders.