Schizophrenia patients benefit from text message reminders

By Mark Cowen, Senior medwireNews Reporter

A text message-based service may help improve medication adherence in patients with schizophrenia, researchers report.

Jorge Maurino (AstraZeneca Medical Department, Madrid, Spain) and team found that schizophrenia patients who received short message service (SMS) reminders regarding antipsychotic treatment showed significantly greater improvements in medication adherence after 3 months than those who received no such messages (usual care group).

Furthermore, patients assigned to receive SMS reminders showed significantly greater improvements in symptoms after 3 months compared with those who received usual care.

"This kind of intervention could be a complimentary step-up strategy for optimising therapeutic adherence in patients with schizophrenia," comment the researchers.

The findings come from a study of 254 stable schizophrenia patients who were assigned to receive daily SMS reminders to take their medication for 3 months (n=100) or usual care (n=154).

There were no baseline differences between the groups regarding socio-demographic or clinical variables, insight into illness, attitude toward medication, or health-related quality of life.

There were also no significant baseline differences between the groups regarding medication adherence scores on the Morisky Green Adherence Questionnaire (MAQ), at 2.2 in each.

However, after 3 months, patients assigned to receive SMS reminders showed a significantly greater reduction in MAQ total score than those assigned to usual care, by 25.0% versus 17.5%, indicating greater medication adherence. Indeed, the mean MAQ total score declined by 1.0 in the SMS group versus 0.7 in the usual care group.

Patients in the SMS group also showed significantly greater improvement at 3 months in negative, cognitive, and global symptoms, as assessed using the Clinical Global Impression - Schizophrenia scale (degree of change), than those in the usual care group.

In addition, subjective attitude to medication and health-related quality life improved to a greater extent among patients assigned to receive SMS reminders than those assigned to usual care.

Maurino et al conclude in Psychiatry Research: "This study shows that daily treatment reminders via SMS are efficacious in the enhancement of adherence to oral antipsycothic treatment in a sample of stable outpatients with schizophrenia and suboptimal adherence."

They add that the SMS strategy "was feasible and easy to implement."

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