AIDS Care Vol. 24; No. 5: P. 612-617 (05..12) - Friday, May
In India, the exponential growth in mobile phone use in recent
years has generated great interest in the devices' potential
benefit as a health care tool. In the current study, the
researchers used mobile phone reminders to encourage adherence
to antiretroviral therapy (ART) among HIV-positive patients in
a Bangalore tertiary hospital's infectious-disease clinic.
Between March and June 2010, 139 HIV-positive adults who had
been taking regular ART for at least one month received weekly
reminders about treatment adherence. The reminders were a
weekly interactive call and a noninteractive neutral pictorial
short message service (SMS).
Following four weeks of the intervention, interviews were
conducted to learn participants' perceptions regarding
preference, usefulness, potential stigma, and privacy
concerns. Eighty-nine percent of participants were urban, and
85 percent had received at least a secondary education.
Of 744 calls made during the intervention, 545 (76 percent)
were received by patients. All patients received the weekly
SMS reminder. One month later, 90 percent said the reminders
were helpful, and they did not feel their privacy was
Most patients (87 percent) preferred the telephone call
reminders; 11 percent preferred the SMS reminders alone.
Fifteen percent never viewed any SMS reminders; only 59
percent viewed them all. Some patients said another person had
inadvertently received their reminder call (20 percent) or SMS
(13 percent); despite this, participants "denied any
discomfort or stigma."
"Mobile phone interventions are an acceptable way of
supporting adherence in this setting," the authors concluded.
"Voice calls rather than SMSs alone seem to be preferred as
reminders. Further research to study the influence of this
intervention on adherence and health maintenance is