“I hate messages that have nothing to do with me”: Co-design of text messages to engage adolescents with health apps


  • Louise Thornton The University of Sydney
  • Sarah Ford The University of Sydney
  • Florens DeGroot The University of Sydney


Background: Engagement with ehealth interventions is often low, even among adolescents. To be effective, development of strategies to better engage adolescents with eHealth approaches must involve adolescents themselves.

Aims: This study aimed to meaningfully engage young people in the production of text messages to prompt adolescents to engage with a healthy lifestyles app (Health4Life).

Methods: With assistance from a senior researcher, two Young Person Research Assistants developed and conducted an online consultation via Zoom with Adolescent Expert Advisors. They then used advisors’ feedback to generate text messages designed to engage adolescents with the Health4Life app.

Results: Twenty-five adolescents attended the online consultation. While none of the adolescents chose to speak or share video during the consultation, they were highly engaged with online activities and provided detailed feedback via the chat. Adolescents expressed preferences for: relatable and personable quotes; positive, relatable messages including health facts; and delivery at 6-8am or 8-9pm. A final library of 20 text messages was produced that will be implemented in upcoming studies examining adolescents’ health app engagement.

Conclusions: Employing Young Person Research Assistants to lead this research, in addition to engaging Adolescent Expert Advisors, meant young people were meaningfully involved in every stage of this research and resulted in a library of engaging and relevant text messages to prompt adolescent engagement with health apps. This study also generated important insights regarding how to effectively engage adolescents with research. For example researchers might consider using asynchronous methods for gaining feedback from this population (e.g. group chats).





Oral Presentations