Text Message Reminders No More Beneficial for Users of Birth Control

Women who receive text message reminders to take oral contraceptives are no more likely to do so than women who do not, according to a study published in the September issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology, MedPage Today reports.

For the study, researchers at Boston University recruited 82 birth control pill users from a local Planned Parenthood clinic. The women were given oral contraceptives from an electronic monitoring device that reported missed pills in real time through wireless transmission.

The women were divided into one group that received daily text message reminders to take the pill, while a control group created their own reminder system, such as through a cell phone or clock alarm.

The researchers found that missed pills were common regardless of whether the women were reminded via text messages (Phend, MedPage Today, 8/24).

Melody Hou -- lead author of the study and a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Boston University School of Medicine -- said that 68% of women in the control group adhered to their own reminder system, which could account for the lack of significant difference between the two groups (Hobson, "Health Blog," Wall Street Journal, 8/23).

Only 16% of the study's participants had "excellent adherence," meaning they missed no more than one pill per cycle on average (MedPage Today, 8/24).

Hou added that no particular method has shown to be effective in reminding women to take their oral contraceptives.

The use of text messaging to remind patients about health-related behaviors is being tested in other areas as well, including for HIV treatment ("Health Blog," Wall Street Journal, 8/23).

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