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Text-Based Mentoring for New Moms: A Feasibility Study

August 2018

Eleanor Martin, University of Michigan
Christina Weiland, University of Michigan
Lindsay C. Page, University of Pittsburgh

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While text-message based interventions that target parents and older students have shown promise for improving a variety of outcomes, evidence on text-based outreach and support for new parents is just emerging.  We explore programmatic data from a text-based mentoring intervention designed to support new mothers and promote healthy child development.  We coded 18,897 text messages from 162 mother-mentor pairs to describe the characteristics of interactions between new mothers and their text-based mentors.  On average, mothers remained engaged with the program for 296 days (out of a full year) and texted with their mentor every 9 days.  Mothers and mentors discussed both child-focused topics (28% of exchanges) and mother-focused topics (8% of exchanges).  Mentors responded to 86% of mothers’ problems within 48 hours and offered mothers emotional support (39% of offers) and advice (35% of offers) most frequently.  Based on the demonstrated ability of the program to engage mothers, the content addressed in their interactions with mentors, and the supports offered by mentors, we conclude that text-based mentoring is a promising strategy for providing outreach and support to new mothers.