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Using text messages to increase birth control pill compliance

Past research has shown that compliance difficulties are more common among patients taking oral contraceptives and can result in unintended pregnancies. But text messages may prove useful in helping women remember to take their daily birth control pill, according to findings published in the latest issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

The study (subscription required) involved more than 900 women ages 13-25. Participants were randomized into a control group and an intervention group. All women received routine health-care services. The intervention group, however, also received 180 text messages including 47 individualized educational messages that could be repeated up to four times. Medpage Today reports:

The researchers completed follow-up interviews for 683 (71%) of the participants ... Continuation rates were highest in the intervention group if the follow-up interview took place before the daily texts were discontinued at 187 days after enrollment (75% versus 54%). Intervention participants reached following discontinuation of the texts remained more likely than controls to have continuing oral contraceptive pill use, but the effect faded after the intervention ended (60% versus 54%).

Eighty-five percent of the women reported that the messages reminded them to take their pills within an hour of receiving the text. Nearly half (49%) asked if they could continue with the reminders by text message.

The findings are interesting in light of other studies showing the effectiveness of using text messages to help patients quit smoking and promote maternal and infant health.

Previously: National Cancer Institute introduces free text message cessation service for teens and Examining the effectiveness of text4baby service
Photo by Christopher Brown

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