Richard Mocarski is interested in disenfranchised groups of society. Therefore, the opportunity to look into the efforts of the text4baby program to engage those who have limited access to healthcare providers peeked his interest.
"Our initial analysis of text4baby showed, unfortunately, major flaws in the program," Mocarski said of his findings. "While the program is noble in its endeavors and successfully circumvents some access barriers, the actual information and advice provided via text is mostly useless."
These preliminary findings regarding the free service shifted the focus of the study. Instead of studying the impact of text4babies, Mocarski and co-author Sim Butler, are focusing instead on ways to use the technology to provide better information to participants.
"We are currently working with a lead social worker at St. Anne's in Los Angeles. Her particular program is a half-way-house and counseling center for pregnant teenagers without reliable support networks or means," said Mocarski, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in Communication and Information Sciences. "Together we are developing research protocols to engage both healthcare providers and their patients to better understand effective ways to use digital means in providing effective heath information to marginalized populations."