Text messages might offer a 'simple-to-use, cost-effective means for nurses to promote medication adherence,' an integrative review of 13 studies concluded.
Four papers failed to show that text messaging improved adherence. In the other nine studies, text messaging improved adherence by between 15.3% and 17.8%. However, the studies used different adherence assessments.
Seven studies did not require patients to respond to the text. The remaining studies asked patients to respond to, for example, address needs, answer questions or assess satisfaction. The number of texts sent varied from three a day for 12 weeks to one a month for three months. Eight studies sent daily texts. One study compared weekly and daily texts: weekly messages were associated with better adherence. Five studies examined satisfaction. All reported that patients found the text messages moderately to highly helpful at promoting adherence. Large randomised trials need to investigate text messaging's effect on adherence, the authors comment. In the meantime, 'nurses could use this relatively simple method of medication reminders to have a profound effect on health outcomes through promoting medication adherence'. Texting by individual nurses 'may not be feasible or practical'. However, nurses could advocate including text messages in IT systems.