Persuasive texts for prompting action: Agency assignment in HPV vaccination reminders


Vaccination reminders must both inform and persuade, and text messages designed for this purpose must do so in 160 characters or less. We tested a strategy for improving the impact of HPV vaccination text message reminders through strategic wording. In an experiment conducted in community settings, 167 Spanish-speaking Latina mothers reviewed text message reminders that assigned the cause or “agency” for HPV transmission to their daughters or the virus, and assigned protection agency to the mothers or the vaccine. Reminder messages framing transmission as an action of the virus prompted mothers to perceive the threat as more severe than messages describing their daughters as the cause. Assigning transmission agency to the virus also held a persuasive advantage in boosting mothers’ intentions to seek vaccination, particularly when the message cast mothers as agents of protection rather than the vaccine.