FRIDAY, Dec. 5, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Text reminders improve the chances that patients will stick with their medication regimen, a new study finds.
About one-third of people don't take their medications as prescribed, either because they forget or because they're uncertain about the benefits or potential harms of the drugs, according to the researchers.
"An important and overlooked problem in medicine is the failure to take prescribed medication. The results of this trial show that text message reminders help prevent this in a simple and effective way. More than just a reminder, the texts provided the link to identify patients who needed help," lead author Dr. David Wald, a professor and cardiologist at Queen Mary University of London in England, said in a university news release.
The study included more than 300 people who were prescribed blood pressure and/or cholesterol-lowering medications. They were divided into two groups, some who received text messages and others who did not.
Those in the text group received messages asking if they had taken their medication that day. The messages were sent every day for two weeks, every other day for two weeks, and then weekly for six months.
If they didn't reply to the messages, they were phoned and offered help.
Only 9 percent of patients in the text message group stopped taking their medications, compared with 25 percent of patients who did not receive text messages, according to the study.
The study was published Dec. 5 in the journal PLOS One.
"The health implications of these results are considerable from both an economic and a health gain perspective. The method is not limited to cardiovascular disease prevention and could be used for patients on treatment for other chronic diseases," David Taylor, professor emeritus, pharmaceutical and public health policy, University College London, said in the news release.
The U.S. National Institute of General Medical Sciences has more about taking medicines.