Text message reminders increase attendance for breast cancer screenings
Women who receive a text message reminding them about their breast cancer screening appointment are more likely to attend than women who do not receive a text, according to a new study.
Researchers from Cancer Research UK found that women who received a text message were 20 percent more likely to attend their screening than women who did not receive a text message.
"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," said study lead author Robert Kerrison.
"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."
Researchers sent text message reminders to women between the ages of 47 to 53 who were invited for their first appointment for breast cancer screening. Of the 450 women who were sent a text 72 percent attended their appointment and of the 435 who did not receive a text, only 60 percent attended their appointment.
The researchers also found that women from the most deprived areas were 28 percent more likely to attend their first breast cancer screening appointment if they received a text message. Women were also almost three times more likely to cancel their appointment in advance if they were sent a reminder.
The study was funded by the Imperial College Healthcare Charity and published in the British Journal of Cancer.
Dr. Julie Sharp, the head of health information at Cancer Research UK, said, "Research like this can help tackle practical barriers that sometimes stop women from attending screening appointments. Cancer screening can save lives, but it's important to remember there are risks as well as benefits. People should also receive good quality information to help them decide whether to take up a screening invitation."