A study of trials by four researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, for the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews found that weekly SMS is efficacious in encouraging patients with HIV infection to stick with their antiretroviral therapy. In particular, the researchers found evidence from two trials in Kenya that weekly text reminders worked better than standard (non-SMS) care. Policy makers should consider funding programmes that support weekly campaigns, the study said. And clinics and hospitals should implement the programmes.
The researchers tried to find every documented trial of SMS-based campaigns for encouraging adherence among HIV patients. Initially they identified 243 references. Seventeen full-text articles were closely reviewed. Two trials in Kenya seem to have particularly caught the attention of the researchers. In one trial of there was a lower risk of non-adherence when short text messages were used in campaign compared to standard care. A second trial compared different intervals and lengths of text messaging to standard care. It found that long weekly text messaging was significantly associated with lower risk of non-adherence than standard care. However, patients receiving weekly messages of encouragement (any length) stuck to their treatment better than patients receiving daily messages (any length). Meanwhile there was no significant differences between weekly text messaging of any length and between short or long messaging at either interval. Interestingly daily text-messaging did not reduce the risk of non-adherence compared to standard care.
In conclusion says the report any weekly messaging “was associated with lower risk of non-adherence”. The effect of short weekly text messaging was judged “significant”. However the study points to a need for large-scale trials of SMS in adolescent populations, as well as in higher income countrie to give a fuller picture.