New research has suggested that reminding patients to take their medication could help boost adherence, enabling people to complete full courses of treatment.
The study, published in the journal Public Library Of Science (PLOS) ONE, found that patients who received text reminders to take their medication were more likely to comply with the relevant guidelines.
Researchers at Queen Mary University of London conducted a small study involving patients on medication to manage their blood pressure or cholesterol. Each participant was sent two texts every other day for two weeks, and then once a week for a further 22 weeks.
Of those patients who did not get texts, a quarter took less than 80 per cent of their prescribed regimen, but this dropped to just nine per cent for the people who had been given text reminders. The study also found that the texts reminded nearly two-thirds of participants (65 per cent) to take their medication on at least one occasion, while 13 per cent were encouraged to continue with their treatment after they had stopped, the researchers said.
It is thought that around a third of patients prescribed medication for blood pressure or to reduce lipid levels to prevent coronary heart disease or stroke do not take it as recommended. However, with a large proportion of people now owning a mobile phone, the study could point to a viable new way that doctors can help boost adherence.
The small-scale study would need further research to support the findings, which would help to determine whether this method could continue in the long term or work with patients suffering from chronic illnesses such as HIV, and if it could work as well over a longer time scale.
Poor medication adherence costs the NHS around £500 million a year, it is estimated.
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