A recent study conducted by the Center for Connected Health, a division of Partners HealthCare (Boston), was the first to combine medication reminders with educational information, which may lead to the use of text messaging as an important way to educate patients and support positive behavior change. The Center reported that daily text messages providing medication reminders and information about atopic dermatosis (a type of eczema) significantly improved treatment adherence, self-care behaviors, skin severity and quality of life for dermatology patients. The study was published in the current issue of Dermatology Research and Practice (volume 2010).
Following an initial visit with a trained research assistant to assess the severity of the participants' skin condition, 25 adolescents and adults (mean age, 30.5 years), completed the study, conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Patients received daily text messages for six weeks, reminding them to continue their treatment or providing them with educational information about their condition. At the conclusion of the study, participants returned for their final visit to Mass General Hospital, where they received a second skin evaluation.
At enrollment, the majority of participants reported that they sometimes forgot to use their medication (92 percent) and often stopped treatment when their skin symptoms improved (88 percent). At the end of the six week study, 72 percent reported improved adherence. Over two-thirds of participants (68 percent) reported an improvement in the number of self-care behaviors they routinely perform (i.e., avoid using soaps or other products that could irritate skin), and 98 percent reported an improvement in at least one self-care behavior.