Scope and effectiveness of mobile phone messaging for HIV/AIDS care: a systematic review

Psychol Health Med. 2013;18(2):182-202. doi: 10.1080/13548506.2012.701310. Epub 2012 Jul 12.


The objective of this mixed method systematic review was to assess the scope, effectiveness, acceptability and feasibility of the use of mobile phone messaging for HIV infection prevention, treatment and care. We comprehensively searched the peer-reviewed and grey literature. Two authors independently screened citations, extracted data and assessed study quality of included studies (any research design) focusing on mobile phone messaging interventions for HIV care. We present a narrative overview of the results. Twenty-one studies met the inclusion criteria: three randomized controlled trials, 11 interventional studies using other study designs and seven qualitative or cross-sectional studies. We also found six on-going trials and 21 projects. Five of the on-going trials and all the above mentioned projects took place in low or middle-income countries. Mobile phone messaging was researched for HIV prevention, appointment reminders, HIV testing reminders, medication adherence and for communication between health workers. Of the three randomized controlled trials assessing the use of short message service (SMS) to improve medication adherence, two showed positive results. Other interventional studies did not provide significant results. In conclusion, despite an extensive search we found limited evidence on the effectiveness of mobile phone messaging for HIV care. There is a need to adequately document outcomes and constraints of programs using mobile phone messaging to support HIV care to assess the impact and to focus on best practice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Appointments and Schedules
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Cell Phone / statistics & numerical data*
  • Developing Countries*
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • HIV Infections / therapy*
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Medication Adherence
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Reminder Systems*
  • Research Design
  • Text Messaging*