Text messages help patients with long term conditions stick to their meds

April 26, 2012

Text message prompts can help patients living with long term conditions stick to their treatment programmes - at least in the short term - indicates a review of the available evidence, published online in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

A key issue for people living with long term conditions is their ability to stick to their drug schedule, and numerous attempts have been made to come up with an effective solution.

One of the most common reasons patients give for not taking their medicines is that they simply forgot, say the authors.

They trawled large and respected research databases looking for published trials on the use of electronic reminder services to improve adherence to medication in people with long term conditions.

They found 13 studies that fitted the bill, involving patients with (5 studies), (3), asthma (2), (2), and the Pill (1).

Four studies reported on text messages (SMS); seven on audiovisual reminders provided by hand held devices; and two on pager services.

In all, nine of the studies showed that electronic reminders boosted patients' ability to stick to their drug dosing schedules. In eight, the differences were significant.

Text messages in particular, but also audiovisual prompts, seemed to get the best results.

Ten of the studies monitored the impact of these reminders on patients for less than six months, and only one of the three studies monitoring patients for longer than this reported a significant impact on adherence rates.

It is important to look at the longer term effects, caution the authors. "Patients who are adherent at first can become non-adherent over time," they write, adding: "automated reminders can become a routine, resulting in ."

Nevertheless, they conclude their findings indicate that do seem to be helpful for patients with long term conditions in the short term, and that this approach is both easy for healthcare professionals and patients to adopt.

"Reminders can be especially used to modify the behaviour of...patients who are willing to take their medication but who forget it or are inaccurate," they write. And they may also provide a solution for those who deliberately don't take their prescribed medication, "by stressing the importance of the intake in the message," they suggest.

They suggest that advances in technology may offer the possibility of longer term benefits too.

"The increasing opportunities of new technologies make it possible to tailor reminding both in timing (only when needed) and in content (tailored messages). In this way, long term improvements in medication may be achieved," they write.

Explore further: Can text messaging improve medication adherence?

More information: The effectiveness of interventions using electronic reminders to improve adherence to chronic medication: a systematic review of the literature Online First, doi:10.1136/amiajnl-2011-000748

Related Stories

Can text messaging improve medication adherence?

May 24, 2011
Text messaging and adolescents don’t always mix well, but researchers at National Jewish Health hope text messages can spur teenagers to take their asthma medications more reliably. The study is testing whether health ...

Text messages help HIV patients stick to antiretroviral drug therapy

March 13, 2012
Mobile phones could play a valuable role in helping HIV patients to take their medication every day, according to a new Cochrane Systematic Review. The researchers found that patients were less likely to miss doses if they ...

Reminder packaging helps patients take medications as directed

September 14, 2011
People with chronic illnesses are more likely to take long-term medications according to doctors’ instructions if the packaging includes a reminder system, according to a new review of evidence.

Integrating medication regimens into daily routines can improve adherence

September 19, 2011
For medications to be effective, they must be taken in the correct dosage at the right time, as prescribed by healthcare providers. The World Health Organization estimates that half of patients take their medications incorrectly, ...

Recommended for you

Hormone therapy in the menopause transition did not increase stroke risk

November 24, 2017
Postmenopausal hormone therapy is not associated with increased risk of stroke, provided that it is started early, according to a report from Karolinska Institutet published in the journal PLOS Medicine.

When traveling on public transport, you may want to cover your ears

November 22, 2017
The noise levels commuters are exposed to while using public transport or while biking, could induce hearing loss if experienced repeatedly and over long periods of time, according to a study published in the open access ...

Different types of alcohol elicit different emotional responses

November 22, 2017
Different types of alcohol elicit different emotional responses, but spirits are most frequently associated with feelings of aggression, suggests research published in the online journal BMJ Open.

Air pollution linked to poorer quality sperm

November 22, 2017
Air pollution, particularly levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), is associated with poorer quality sperm, suggests research published online in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

Sunrise and sunset guide daily activities of city-dwellers

November 21, 2017
Despite artificial lightning and social conventions, the dynamics of daylight still influence the daily activities of people living in modern, urban environments, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

Older men need more protein to maintain muscles

November 21, 2017
The amount of protein recommended by international guidelines is not sufficient to maintain muscle size and strength in older men, according to a new study.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.