A new systematic review is shedding some light on the subject. The Cochrane Collaboration reviewed two studies of nearly 1,000 HIV-positive adults in Kenya taking antiretroviral therapy, which requires daily doses of oral medicine.
They found that patients receiving text messages reminding them to take their medications were less likely to miss doses. One of the studies also demonstrated that patients receiving weekly text-messages were at lower risk of missing medicine doses compared with patients receiving daily messages.
Geri Gay, a Cornell communications professor focused on interactive communication technologies, says these type of messages are just a start.
“There is an enormous potential to use mobile technologies to help us change what we think and do,” she said. “These mobile tools can not only tailor and deliver health messages for particular times and locations but can also provide feedback and social support.”
While the review found some positive results, it only included two trials with adult patients in Kenya. The authors concluded researchers needed to study whether texting helps adolescents remember to take their medicines, and whether this type of intervention works higher-income countries.
While the results are preliminary, this type of work paves the way for additional research that can tell us even more about using technology to improve health outcomes across the globe.