A quantitative systematic review of the efficacy of mobile phone interventions to improve medication adherence

J Adv Nurs. 2014 Sep;70(9):1932-1953. doi: 10.1111/jan.12400. Epub 2014 Apr 1.


Aims: To evaluate the characteristics and efficacy of mobile phone interventions to improve medication adherence. Secondary aims are to explore participants' acceptability and satisfaction with mobile phone interventions and to evaluate the selected studies in terms of study rigour, impact, cost and resource feasibility, generalizability and implications for nursing practice and research.

Background: Medication non-adherence is a major global challenge. Mobile phones are the most commonly used form of technology worldwide and have the potential to promote medication adherence.

Design: Guidelines from the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination were followed for this systematic review.

Data sources: A comprehensive search of databases (PubMed, Web of Science, CINAHL, PsycInfo, Google Chrome and Cochrane) and bibliographies from related articles was performed from January 2002-January 2013 to identify the included studies.

Review methods: A quantitative systematic review without meta-analysis was conducted and the selected studies were critically evaluated to extract and summarize pertinent characteristics and outcomes.

Results: The literature search produced 29 quantitative research studies related to mobile phones and medication adherence. The studies were conducted for prevention purposes as well as management of acute and chronic illnesses. All of the studies used text messaging. Eighteen studies found significant improvement in medication adherence.

Conclusion: While the majority of investigators found improvement in medication adherence, long-term studies characterized by rigorous research methodologies, appropriate statistical and economic analyses and the test of theory-based interventions are needed to determine the efficacy of mobile phones to influence medication adherence.

Keywords: medication adherence; mobile phone; nursing; short message service (SMS); text messaging.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Phone*
  • Drug Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Patient Compliance*