Study: Text Messaging Services Can Bolster Medication Adherence

December 9, 2014 in News

Text messaging services could help improve prescription medication adherence, according to a Queen Mary University of London study published in PLOS ONE, BBC News reports.

Details of Study

For the study, 300 heart patients who already were taking blood pressure medications or statins either:

  • Received daily text messages about their prescriptions for two weeks, followed by two weeks of texts on alternate days and then weekly texts for the following six months; or
  • Did not receive any text messages.

Participants receiving the text messages were required to reply indicating whether:

  • They had taken their medications;
  • They had not taken their medications; or
  • The text message helped to remind them to take their medications.

Individuals who indicated they did not take their medications were flagged by a computer and received a follow-up call (BBC News, 12/5). Individuals who did not respond also received a follow-up call (HealthDay/Philadelphia Inquirer, 12/8).


Overall, the study found that the text messaging services helped reduce the number of individuals who:

  • Forgot to take their medications; or
  • Stopped taking their medications.

Specifically, the study found that 25% of those who did not receive the messages stopped taking their medications altogether or took less than 80% of what had been prescribed. In comparison, just 9% of those in the text message group stopped taking their medications or took less than 80% of what had been prescribed.

In addition, just three of 150 patients in the group receiving texts did not begin taking their medications after receiving advice during the follow-up call.

Researchers noted various reasons why people stopped taking their medications, including:

  • Concerns about side effects; and
  • Uncertainty about whether the treatments were necessary (BBC News, 12/5).


David Wald, an author of the study and a professor and cardiologist at Queen Mary University, said, “More than just a reminder, the texts provided the link to identify patients who needed help” (HealthDay/Philadelphia Inquirer, 12/8).

Further, the study found that the text messages helped one in six patients to continue their treatments, thus reducing their risks of stroke and heart attack (BBC News, 12/5).

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