SMS reminders boost breast cancer screening attendance by 20 per cent

Women who are sent text messages reminders about their breast cancer screening appointment are 20 per cent more likely to attend, a new study funded by the Imperial College Healthcare Charity found.

The study aimed to test whether women were more likely to turn up to their first breast cancer screening if they were sent SMS reminders. Around 450 of the women were sent reminders, whereas the other 435 were not, reports Almost three quarters of the women who did receive a text message (72 per cent) turned up to their appointments. In comparison, only 60 per cent of the group that weren’t reminded did the same.

It seems that women who live in deprived areas could benefit most from text reminders, as they were 28 per cent more likely to show up to their screening, reports Women who were unable to come to their appointment for whatever reason were also three times more likely to cancel in advance if they were sent a text message, which could help reduce the number of costly missed appointments the NHS suffers from every year.

Robert Kerrison, of University College London and the study’s lead author, said NHS resources could potentially be saved if text message reminders were implemented.

“We all forget things now and then, and doctor’s appointments are no exception – in fact, forgetting is one of the most commonly cited reasons why women miss breast cancer screening appointments,” he explained.

“Our research found that a cheap, simple text message reminder could boost the number of women – especially those from deprived areas – attending screening, or cancelling in advance.”