Texting: Everybody does it. Texting has quickly become the preferred method of communication as the convenience of voice calling and email has decreased. 

Although texting is a universal technology, many assume it is only accessible to younger people. However, the use of text messaging in people over the age of 50 has been steadily increasing. 

Yes, older people are texting. But would they be willing to engage in clinical settings through text messaging?

 Research suggests that not only are older people willing to participate in clinical interventions involving texting, but often, older people prefer texting interventions, especially if they add convenience and are easily accessible. 

Even though older people are willing to engage in mobile technology in clinical research, the best way to communicate with them may be different than younger generations. For example, people over 50 prefer text messages that… 

  • Use “you” instead of “we” 
  • Appear nonaggressive & polite
  • Are positively aimed 
  • Accurate grammar
  • Avoid emoticons
  • Avoid unfamiliar texting jargon
    Optimizing engagement with older demographics in clinical research

    An example of Root’s human-like conversation with a participant

With these preferences in mind, Dr. Alexis Kuerbis found that older adults were even more compliant than younger adults using text messaging interventions in clinical research.

“{Texting} is great for older adults because it relies on words…the one thing that improves as we age is our verbal skills and vocabulary. Relying and capitalizing on the strength of older adults can be really important.”

Here’s an example of how Root uses these preferences in practice to optimize support for participants:

Clinical research is designed to be inclusive and older people should not be left out of the conversation. Text messaging is an effective way to increase engagement in clinical trials across all age demographics. 

The goal of Root’s AI is to work for ALL participants. This easy-to-use technology empowers participants to feel comfortable and supported at all times in their clinical study journey. 

“{With texting} Older people feel a little less alone, they feel like someone is checking in on them, which is why I imagine Root Health works so well…I do think that it is absolutely important to continue to use texting in healthcare and health care research,” (Dr. Alexis Kuerbis, Hunter College of New York). 

By Corinne Migliazza