Response Patterns to Weekly Short Message Service Health Surveys Among Diverse Youth at High Risk for Acquiring HIV

ATN masthead University of California, Los Angeles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


HIV researchers use short messaging service (SMS)-based surveys to monitor health behaviors more closely than what would be possible with in-person assessment. Benefits are tempered by nonresponse to completing surveys. Understanding response patterns and their associated study participant characteristics would guide more tailored use of SMS-based surveys for HIV studies. We examined response to weekly 7-item SMS surveys administered as part of an HIV prevention trial. Using Mixture hidden Markov models (MHMM), we identified the underlying response patterns shared by subgroups of participants over time and quantified the association between these response patterns and participant characteristics. Three underlying response patterns were identified; responders, responders with phone-related errors, and non-responders. Non-responders versus responders were more likely to be younger, male, cis-gender, Black and Latinx participants with histories of homelessness, incarceration, and social support service utilization. Responders with phone-related errors compared to non-responders were more likely to be Black, Latinx, female, students, and have a history of incarceration and social support service utilization. More nuanced results from MHMM analyses better inform what strategies to use for increasing SMS response rates, including assisting in securing phone ownership/service for responders with phone-related errors and identifying alternative strategies for non-responders. Actively collecting and monitoring non-delivery notification data available from SMS gateway service companies offers another opportunity to identify and connect with participants when they are willing but unable to respond during follow-up.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAIDS and Behavior
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Ecological momentary assessment
  • HIV
  • Mixture hidden Markov models
  • Response compliance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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