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The effect of reminder systems on patients' adherence to treatment

Authors Fenerty, West C, Davis, Kaplan, Feldman SR

Received 19 September 2011

Accepted for publication 5 December 2011

Published 10 February 2012 Volume 2012:6 Pages 127—135


Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Sarah D Fenerty1, Cameron West1, Scott A Davis1, Sebastian G Kaplan3, Steven R Feldman1,2,4
1Center for Dermatology Research, Department of Dermatology, 2Department of Pathology, 3Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, 4Department of Public Health Sciences, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA

Background: Patient adherence is an important component of the treatment of chronic disease. An understanding of patient adherence and its modulating factors is necessary to correctly interpret treatment efficacy and barriers to therapeutic success.
Purpose: This meta-analysis aims to systematically review published randomized controlled trials of reminder interventions to assist patient adherence to prescribed medications.
Methods: A Medline search was performed for randomized controlled trials published between 1968 and June 2011, which studied the effect of reminder-based interventions on adherence to self-administered daily medications.
Results: Eleven published randomized controlled trials were found between 1999 and 2009 which measured adherence to a daily medication in a group receiving reminder interventions compared to controls receiving no reminders. Medication adherence was measured as the number of doses taken compared to the number prescribed within a set period of time. Meta-analysis showed a statistically significant increase in adherence in groups receiving a reminder intervention compared to controls (66.61% versus 54.71%, 95% CI for mean: 0.8% to 22.4%). Self-reported and electronically monitored adherence rates did not significantly differ (68.04% versus 63.67%, P = 1.0). Eight of eleven studies showed a statistically significant increase in adherence for at least one of the reminder group arms compared to the control groups receiving no reminder intervention.
Limitations: The data are limited by imperfect measures of adherence due to variability in data collection methods. It is also likely that concomitant educational efforts in the study populations, such as instructions regarding proper administration and importance of correct dosing schedules, contributed to improved patient adherence, both in reminder and control arms. The search strategy could have missed relevant studies which were categorized by disease rather than adherence.
Conclusions: Reminder-based interventions may improve adherence to daily medications. However, the interventions used in these studies, which included reminder phone calls, text messages, pagers, interactive voice response systems, videotelephone calls, and programmed electronic audiovisual reminder devices, are impractical for widespread implementation, and their efficacy may be optimized when combined with alternative adherence-modifying strategies. More practical reminder-based interventions should be assessed to determine their value in improving patient adherence and treatment outcomes.

Keywords: patient adherence, medication reminders, treatment compliance

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