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

Breathing dirty air may harm kidneys, study finds

September 21, 2017
Outdoor air pollution has long been linked to major health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. A new study now adds kidney disease to the list, according to ...

Excess dietary manganese promotes staph heart infection

September 21, 2017
Too much dietary manganese—an essential trace mineral found in leafy green vegetables, fruits and nuts—promotes infection of the heart by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus ("staph").

Being active saves lives whether a gym workout, walking to work or washing the floor

September 21, 2017
Physical activity of any kind can prevent heart disease and death, says a large international study involving more than 130,000 people from 17 countries published this week in The Lancet.

Frequent blood donations safe for some, but not all

September 21, 2017
(HealthDay)—Some people may safely donate blood as often as every eight weeks—but that may not be a healthy choice for all, a new study suggests.

Higher manganese levels in children correlate with lower IQ scores, study finds

September 21, 2017
A study led by environmental health researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine finds that children in East Liverpool, Ohio with higher levels of Manganese (Mn) had lower IQ scores. The research appears ...

One e-cigarette with nicotine leads to adrenaline changes in nonsmokers' hearts

September 20, 2017
A new UCLA study found that healthy nonsmokers experienced increased adrenaline levels in their heart after one electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) with nicotine but there were no increased adrenaline levels when the 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.