We conducted a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) up to January 2014 which evaluated the effects of electronic reminders on patient adherence to medication in chronic disease care. A random-effects model was used to pool the outcome data. Subgroup analyses were performed to examine a set of moderators. Data from 20 studies, representing 22 RCTs, were synthesized. Thirteen trials utilized short message service (SMS) reminders, three used pager reminders and six employed electronic alarm device-triggered reminders. The meta-analysis showed that the use of electronic reminders was associated with a significant, yet small, improvement in patient adherence to medication (pooled Cohen's d=0.29, 95% confidence interval 0.18, 0.41). The effect was sensitive to sample size, type of disease and intervention duration. The frequency and type of electronic reminders appeared to have no moderating effect on medication adherence. The use of electronic reminders seems to be a simple and potentially effective way of improving patient adherence to chronic medication. Future research should concern the optimum strategies for the design and implementation of electronic reminders, with which the effectiveness of the reminders is likely to be augmented.
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