Will a text message a day keep the doctor away?
Poor adherence to medications, or medication that’s taken incorrectly, can lead to poor health outcomes and increase the cost of healthcare by increasing the risk of adverse events and hospital admissions.
Timing, frequency, route and dose of medication are important factors in determining outcomes.
Medication non-adherence is a common issue in disease management and warrants the need for initiatives to assist in approving improve adherence rates. Mobile health interventions, including those involving uni or bidirectional text messages, are being increasingly used to deliver healthcare services and support positive behaviour change. These types of interventions can be seamlessly integrated into people’s daily life and serve as a quick, convenient and cost-effective reminder.
Researchers reviewed a range of text message based health interventions to assess their efficacy in improving medication adherence.
A number of studies were reviewed. Involving a range of different text message interventions designed to improve rates of medication adherence to oral prescription medication in adults. Interventions involved both uni directional and bidirectional text messages in both standardised and individually tailored formats.
The participants were from a range of backgrounds and taking medication for various diagnoses. The dose and duration of the intervention differed from study to study with some involving three text messages per day over 12 weeks and other being just once per month. Medication adherence was measured in each study.
In nine of the 13 studies included, those using a text messages intervention had higher rates of medication adherence. Of the five studies that examined satisfaction levels with the intervention, moderate to high levels of helpfulness were reported with regards to assisting people with their medication adherence.
This review suggests that text message interventions may be helpful in improving medication adherence.
If you take multiple medications, there are a number of mobile health interventions available that may assist you in managing your medications and setting reminders to ensure that you don’t miss a dose.
Last Reviewed: 28/08/2019
Norman Swan Medical Communications
DeKoekkoek, T et al. (2015). mHealth SMS text messaging interventions and to promote medication adherence: an integrative review. Journal of Clinical Nursing 24, 2722 – 2735. doi: 10.1111/jocn.12918.