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University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center launches free text message-based health program

Date Visible: 
05/09/2017 - 11:30am
Media contact: Jessica Webster Sendra, 734-764-2220 |  Patients may contact Cancer AnswerLine™, 800-865-1125

ANN ARBOR, Michigan – A team of researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center has designed a free texting program that acts as a health coach for people looking for help to quit smoking, lose weight or get more exercise, all of which can reduce the risk for cancer.

“We designed the Tips4Health program especially for people who are busy or have trouble getting into healthcare,” explains Lawrence An, M.D., Director of the Center for Health Communications Research. “The question we set out to answer was ‘how can we make healthy living easier for people?’”

Tips4Health was adapted from a similar texting program developed by the National Cancer Institute, says project manager Harmony Hoekzema.

“Our goal for this program is to be able to share this information about improving your lifestyle and lowering cancer risk to a broader range of people, not just people with data plans,” says Hoekzema. “Using SMS text messaging means that you don’t have to download an app. You can participate in Tips4Health even if all you’ve got is a flip phone.”

Participants can sign up online or by texting TIPS to (734) 212-5123. After completing a short survey, users begin receiving two to five daily messages from the program, tailored to the user’s survey responses and answers to texted evaluation questions.

Messages include motivational support, tips to prepare for behavior change, strategies for overcoming barriers, information about the benefits of healthy living, and opportunities for keeping track of personal goals and progress.

The first 1000 participants to complete the free six-week program will be eligible to receive $20.

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