Regular texts could boost birth control compliance amongst teens

Sending text messages to teenagers on birth control programmes could help boost compliance and reduce the number of missed appointments, a new study from the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center suggests.

The researchers believe SMS could help boost compliance to birth control in an age group which tends to be non-compliant. One hundred girls and young women between the ages of 13 and 21 took part in the study. Each person was receiving contraception via an injection, which they had to have every three months, reports

Half of the patients were given automated phone calls to remind them to come to their next appointment, whereas the other half received daily text messages which started three days before their appointments. These messages were personalised and asked the receiver to text back. Those who were sent text messages were also given regular sexual health tips relating to condoms and STI prevention.

Of all the study participants, 87 per cent showed up to their first injection appointment, 77 per cent completed their second and 69 per cent attended their third appointment. Teenagers who received text messages were much more likely to turn up to their injection appointments on time, as only 56 per cent of people from the phone call only group arrived on time compared to 68 per cent of the SMS group.

Maria Trent, the study’s senior investigator and adolescent health expert, said: “Our findings suggest that text messaging can help overcome some issues that teens struggle with and pose challenges for the clinicians caring for them, such as keeping clinical appointments, adhering to a tight treatment schedule and regularly taking prescription medications.”