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Text messages ‘boost adherence’

Weekly text messages are a easy and effective way of encouraging patients to take their medication, say researchers.

Dutch researchers systematically reviewed 13 studies that looked at various types of electronic medication reminders for patients with long-term conditions, such as text messages and pagers.

They found that three of the four studies that looked at text message reminders showed significant positive effects on adherence. One of them found the percentage of participants achieving 90% adherence increased by 13-16% with weekly reminders, but that daily reminders did not improve this figure.

Of the seven studies that looked at audio, visual or a combination of both in electronic reminder devices, four significantly improved patient adherence. But one study still found that one in four patients using these devices had an adherence of less than 50%.

Study lead Dr Marcia Vervloet, researcher at the Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research, said: ‘After providing patients with electronic reminders, no additional effort is needed from healthcare providers, making this an intervention easy to implement in daily practice.'

‘But it is important to investigate whether the effects of electronic reminding remain for a longer time period.'

J Am Med Inform Assoc 2012, online 25 April