Using ADAPT-ITT to modify a telephone-based HIV prevention intervention for SMS delivery: Formative study

Teaniese Davis, Ralph Joseph DiClemente, Michael Prietula

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: African American adolescent females are disproportionately affected by sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV. Given the elevated risk of STIs and HIV in African American women, there is an urgent need to identify innovative strategies to enhance the adoption and maintenance of STI and HIV preventive behaviors. Texting is a promising technology for creating preventive maintenance interventions (PMIs) that extend the efficacy of the original intervention. However, little guidance in public health literature is available for developing this type of application. Objective: This paper describes a formative pilot study that incorporates user experience methods to design and test PMI texts for Afiya, an original evidence-based intervention (EBI) specifically designed for African American adolescent females. This study aims to describe the adaptation process of health educator-led phone calling to text-based communication. Methods: The formative process followed the assessment, decision, adaptation, production, topical experts-integration, training, testing (ADAPT-ITT) framework for adapting EBIs and using them in a new setting, for a new target population or a modified intervention strategy. This study presents the details of how the phases of the ADAPT-ITT framework were applied to the design of the adaptation. An advisory board was constituted from the target population, consisting of 6 African American women aged 18-24 years, participating in formative activities for 12 weeks, and involving components of the PMI design. As Afiya included a telephone-based PMI, developers of the original Afiya phone scripts crafted the initial design of the SMS-based texts and texting protocol. The advisory board participated in the 1-day Afiya workshop, followed by 4 weeks of texting PMI messages and a midcourse focus group, followed by 4 more weeks of texting PMI messages, ultimately ending with a final focus group. At the advisory board's request, this phase included an optional, additional week of text-based PMI messages. Results: The methods provided a rich source of data and insights into the fundamental issues involved when constructing SMS-based PMI for this target population and for this EBI. Prior contact and context are essential as the health educator was identified as a key persona in the process and the messages were situated in the original (workshop) context. Narrative adaptations for personas emerged from advisory board discussions. Suggestions on how to expand the PMI to current, specific social contexts indicated that the use of narrative analysis is warranted. Conclusions: The use of existing EBIs incorporating telephone-based PMI scripts facilitated the initial design of the texts, with a subsequent narrative analysis of the advisory board data providing additional adjustments given the actual context. Additional examination of the advisory board feedback revealed that personas would offer insight into and opportunities for a persona-specific modification of texting narratives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere22485
JournalJMIR Formative Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • ADAPT-ITT framework
  • Adolescent
  • African Americans
  • Female
  • HIV
  • Health status disparities
  • Intervention study
  • Risk reduction behavior
  • Short message service
  • Texting
  • Young adult
  • mHealth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health Informatics


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