Do automated text messages increase adherence to acne therapy? Results of a randomized, controlled trial

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2012 Dec;67(6):1136-42. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2012.02.031. Epub 2012 Apr 20.


Background: Acne is a common skin condition often requiring complex therapeutic regimens. Patient nonadherence to prescribed medication regimens is a factor in treatment failure.

Objective: The goal of this study was to determine if daily automated text messages would result in increased adherence to recommended use of topical acne medication and consequently greater improvement in acne.

Methods: Forty patients with mild to moderate acne were prescribed clindamycin/benzoyl peroxide 1%/5% gel in the mornings and adapalene 0.3% gel in the evenings for 12 weeks. Each medication tube was fitted with an electronic Medication Event Monitoring System cap (MEMS, Aardex Group, Sion, Switzerland) (to record the date and time of every opening/closing of the tube). Twenty patients were randomly assigned to receive customized twice-daily text messages instructing them to apply their morning and evening medication. The remainder of patients (N = 20), who did not receive text messages, served as control subjects.

Results: Mean adherence rates for the correct application of both medications on a daily basis over 12 weeks was 33.9% for patients in the reminder group and 36.5% for patients in the control group (P = .75). Patients in both groups had similar clinical improvement of their acne.

Limitations: The small sample size may limit the ability to detect differences between the study groups.

Conclusions: Electronic reminders in the form of daily, customized text messages were not associated with significant differences in adherence to topical medications in patients with mild to moderate acne and had no significant effect on therapeutic response.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / drug therapy*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medication Adherence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Text Messaging*
  • Young Adult