The SMS and mobile messaging In Population Screening (SIPS) study
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Description: Mobile messaging encompasses a broad range of text and multimedia messaging platforms and protocols. These are readily accessed through mobile devices and include Short Message Service (SMS) and Rich Communication Services (RCS). The use of these tools helps facilitate communication between healthcare services patients and vice-versa. In a recent survey of US patients, 70.5% admitted to using messaging in the management of their general health as it is often seen as a less intrusive and more convenient means for communication. In addition to being a low-cost and accessible means of communication, mobile messaging offers a versatile approach to healthcare communication, imcluding confirming appointments, reminders or in health promotion activities. Moreover, as with the COVID-19 pandemic, mobile messaging has been shown to be an effective and acceptable means of providing public health information, when direct access to hospital or healthcare services is limited. Within screening programmes, the use of mobile messaging, predominantly SMS, is well-established as a reminder tool. SMS reminders in breast cancer screening have been shown to increase attendance by 5%. As such in the UK's Independent Review of Adult Screening Programs, the adoption of mobile reminders was heavily advocated. Adopting mobile messaging, whether for reminders or health promotion into screening programmes, however, provides unique challenges for the following reasons: 1. Patients are invited to screen for a pre-symptomatic disease, therefore, they may not be aware of the need for the test or why they are being contacted. 2. Screening services must send out thousands of messages to a diverse population, each with their own communication needs. Meeting the needs of this broad demographic can be difficult 3. Screening invitations and communication must respect the autonomy of the individual. They must facilitate attendance but not be coercive, which can lead to individuals being deterred from attending. Striking this balance is crucial for successful message implementation. There is, however, a paucity of recommendations to facilitate this implementation specifically in screening prgrammes, with majority of guidance focussing upon hospital or primary care based practice. In September2020 however Public Health England (PHE), developed its initial recommnedations for SMS use in screening. Whilst these used best-available evidence, they did not consider areas such as research or new technologies, and used a limited methodology in their development. The aim of this study is to utilise a modified Delphi approach to determine the opinions and draw a consensus on the key issues and ways mobile messaging can be implemented into population screening. Through this process, we will aim to create an expert-derived list of current recommendations for services which will aid the validation of exisiting PHE guidance as well as highlight areas to direct the future direction of mobile messaging in this contexts.