SMS4dads: Providing information and support to new fathers through mobile phones – a pilot study
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Objective: The objective of this paper was to inform the development of a mobile phone-optimised, SMS-based, informative and interactive telephone-linked support system for new fathers. Methods: The SMS4dads intervention was designed to support fathers with helpful and encouraging text messages, links to relevant web resources, mood monitoring and connection to a crisis telephone support if needed. Forty-six participants were recruited through clinics and social media across Australia. Outcome measures evaluated uptake, user engagement and acceptability. Results: Forty men (87%) remained engaged with the SMS4dads intervention for the full six-week period. Users' feedback indicated that SMS4dads had good acceptability and that the content was helpful. An embedded tool to allow tracking of users' mood was utilised by slightly less than half of the study participants. Concerning levels of psychological distress may have been detected in several participants. Conclusion: The results provide tentative support for the use of mobile phone technology to deliver parenting and mental health information to men in the perinatal period. Participants' engagement and positive responses suggest that this technology could provide a welcome conduit for essential information and support for new fathers, and could potentially be further developed as a feasible medium for collecting information on fathers' levels of psychological distress.
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