In a poster presented at the American Academy of Dermatology’s recent annual meeting, and just published in the April supplement to their journal, twice daily text messaging reminding acne patients to apply their topical meds had very little impact on adherence.
In the study, conducted by a team at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, 40 patients ages 12-35 with mild-to-moderate acne were separated into a treatment group and a control group, and treated with two meds daily (one AM, one PM). Those in treatment group had electronic monitoring caps added to their medication tubes, which monitored every time the cap was opened. They received two text messages daily reminding them to apply the medication. Both groups were assessed after 6 and 12 weeks.
Adherence in both groups DECREASED over time (not surprisingly), and the mean adherence for correct administration of both meds was around 35%. By itself, text messaging had no impact on disease severity.
What can we learn from this? Two observations:
- Two medication adherence is always going to be more challenging than one, which wasn’t separately reported on, and undoubtedly led to a lower adherence score than prior Acne studies.
- Automated e-reminders via texts, emails etc have only delivered mixed results. And in this patient age group, you’d expect greater technical savvy than other population groups too.
Finally, great jobs to the UT team for putting some rigour around an experiment, and for publishing the results. There are startup companies receiving early stage funding that have done less research!
Here’s the link to the poster