Study reveals text messages prevent 1 in 6 patients from failing to take medicine


Scientists from Queen Mary University of London have found text messaging prevents one in six patients from forgetting to take, or stopping, their prescribed medicines.

The randomised trial, published today in the journal PLOS ONE, tested whether text messaging improved the use of blood pressure and cholesterol lowering medication for the prevention of heart attacks and stroke – the most common causes of death worldwide.

Around a third of people do not take their treatment as prescribed, greatly reducing potential benefits and costing the NHS over £500m in wasted medicines and treating avoidable illness. Some patients forget to take their tablets and others stop because of uncertainty over the benefits or harms of treatment.

The INTERACT trial involved 303 patients who had been prescribed blood pressure and/or cholesterol lowering medication. Patients were divided randomly into two groups; a ‘text message’ group who received periodic text messages and a ‘no text’ group who received no text messages.

The ‘text message’ group received texts every day for two weeks, alternate days for two weeks and then weekly for 6 months, asking if they had taken their medication that day. Patients who had not, or did not reply, were telephoned and offered help.

In the ‘no text’ group, 25% of patients stopped their medication completely or took less than four fifths of their prescribed treatment, compared with only 9% in the ‘text message’ group.

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