Cape Town | The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) and research partners revealed in a trial that a behavioural intervention to support adherence to blood pressure treatment delivered via SMS text-message can improve patient adherence. The associated benefit of this intervention showed a modest decrease in blood pressure at a 12 month interval.
“We were interested in understanding the implications for future provision of mobile-phone support for chronic care services within a resource limited setting,” says the SAMRC investigator Dr Natalie Leon. “Innovative interventions such as short messaging system (SMS) text messages sent to mobile phones may improve adherence to chronic disease treatment, but little is known of its effectiveness in operational settings,” she adds.
Key findings indicate that in general, patients valued the SMS reminders to collect medicine and notification of missed appointments, with some using it as an opportunity to reinforce existing or developing more robust reminder systems. The personalised and polite tone of SMS messages contributed to a sense of affirmation and partnership.
The SMS-text Adherence SuppoRt (StAR) trial that was implemented by a consortium of researchers from Oxford University, University of Cape Town and the Western Cape Health Department also highlighted challenges within the health system such as the need for integrated patient information systems for chronic care follow-up.
“Our findings begin to identify the core elements required for a successful SMS text message intervention in a low-resource operational setting, however, continued research is required to refine the mechanisms by which such interventions could be integrated with mainstream operations, clinical communication and information systems,” says Dr Leon.
The project was funded by The Wellcome Trust Institutional Support Fund and the John Fell Fund at Oxford University.
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