Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A text and the pill

Two interesting articles in this week's Time Magazine:

The first is about an innovative health education program to try to reach hard-to-reach pregnant moms called text4baby. Basically, the thought is that lots of low-income women don't receive prenatal care, but do receive text messages. So women are being encouraged to text "baby" to a certain number (511411) and then enter their due date. Then they receive texts geared toward the development of their baby.

You know, it's a nice use of new technology, and I'm all for technology. I have two problems with it. One, it's really generalizing and stereotyping to say that low-income women use their cell phones but don't get prenatal care. It makes them seem, well, stupid. Also, I wonder how effective random text messages can be as health education. If the text says to do something, will a woman stop and do it necessarily? Just wondering.

So I haven't seen any evaluation yet of this program. Okay, I found something about an evaluation that's currently being done. Why can't I get a cool job like this one? I'll be curious to see what the results show. Call me cynical (you are so cynical!) but having worked in health education for many years, I just don't see this having the impact that they are expecting. It's cool, but I'm not sure it's really going to work. Will women really access prenatal care, stop smoking, etc. due to these texts? We'll see...

The second article is about the Pill: yes, the Pill has been around for 50 years. Almost for as long as I've been alive (gulp). The article makes some interesting social commentary. Was it the availability of the Pill that lead to changed roles for women, dramatically shifting the social fabric of the U.S.? For example:
In later years, commentators claimed that the Pill changed everything for women. But real social change required the meeting of means and opportunity. "If there were no opportunities out there, it would just be another contraceptive but not revolutionary," argues Elaine Tyler May, author of America and the Pill: A History of Promise, Peril and Liberation. "The revolutionary potential of the Pill could never have been achieved without the opportunities that came about because of women's activism."


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