Objective: To compare the efficacy of a short messaging service (SMS) text messaging and phone reminder to improve attendance rates at a health promotion center.
Methods: A total of 1 859 participants who had scheduled appointments in the health promotion center of our hospital from April 2007 to May 2007 were enrolled in the study and randomly assigned into 3 groups: control (no reminder) group, SMS text messaging reminder group and telephone reminder group. Attendance rates and costs of interventions were collected.
Results: A total of 1848 participants were eligible for analysis. Attendance rates of control, SMS and telephone groups were 80.5%, 87.5% and 88.3%, respectively. The attendance rates were significantly higher in SMS and telephone groups than that in the control group, with odds ratio 1.698, 95% confidence interval 1.224 to 2.316, P=0.001 in the SMS group, and odds ratio 1.829, 95% confidence interval 1.333 to 2.509, P<0.001 in the telephone group. However, there was no difference between the SMS group and the telephone group (P=0.670). The cost effectiveness analysis showed that the cost per attendance for the SMS group (0.31 Yuan) was significantly lower than that for the telephone group (0.48 Yuan).
Conclusion: SMS and telephone are effective reminders for improving attendance rate at a health promotion center. SMS reminder may be more cost-effective compared with the telephone reminder.