Would daily text-message reminders improve oral contraceptive adherence?

November 1, 2010

To determine the efficacy of text-message reminders, researchers at Duke University randomly assigned 82 women, none of whom were currently taking oral contraceptives, to receive either a daily text message reminder at a time of their choice or not to receive such a reminder.

To determine the efficacy of text-message reminders, researchers at Duke University randomly assigned 82 women, none of whom were currently taking oral contraceptives, to receive either a daily text message, "Please remember to take your birth control pill," at a time of their choice or to not receive such a reminder (control group).

During the 3-month study period, pill taking was tracked with an electronic monitoring device that sent a signal each time a study participant removed a pill from the device.

Although women in the intervention group indicated that the messages were useful and that they relied on them, at the end of the study period the rate of missed pills for the text-message group and the control group did not differ significantly.

Investigators noted that the lack of a significant difference between the 2 groups could be attributed to the control group's frequent use of alternative reminder systems.

Study participants had a mean age of 22 years and were mostly white, non-Hispanic high school graduates and were nulliparous. Most had used condoms in the past, and more than half reported prior emergency contraception use and past oral contraceptive pill use.

Hou MY, Hurwitz S, Kavanagh E, Fortin J, Goldberg AB. Using daily text-message reminders to improve adherence with oral contraceptives: a randomized controlled trial. Obstet Gynecol. 2010;116(3):633-640.