A randomized controlled behavioral intervention trial to improve medication adherence in adult stroke patients with prescription tailored Short Messaging Service (SMS)-SMS4Stroke study

BMC Neurol. 2015 Oct 21;15:212. doi: 10.1186/s12883-015-0471-5.


Background: The effectiveness of mobile technology to improve medication adherence via customized Short Messaging Service (SMS) reminders for stroke has not been tested in resource poor areas. We designed a randomized controlled trial to test the effectiveness of SMS on improving medication adherence in stroke survivors in Pakistan.

Methods: This was a parallel group, assessor-blinded, randomized, controlled, superiority trial. Participants were centrally randomized in fixed block sizes. Adult participants on multiple medications with access to a cell phone and stroke at least 4 weeks from onset (Onset as defined by last seen normal) were eligible. The intervention group, in addition to usual care, received reminder SMS for 2 months that contained a) Personalized, prescription tailored daily medication reminder(s) b) Twice weekly health information SMS. The Health Belief Model and Social Cognitive theory were used to design the language and content of messages. Frontline SMS software was used for SMS delivery. Medication adherence was self-reported and measured on the validated Urdu version of Morisky Medication Adherence Questionnaire. Multiple linear regression was used to model the outcome against intervention and other covariates. Analysis was conducted by intention-to-treat principle.

Results: Two hundred participants were enrolled. 38 participants were lost to follow-up. After 2 months, the mean medication score was 7.4 (95 % CI: 7.2-7.6) in the intervention group while 6.7 (95 % CI: 6.4-7.02) in the control group. The adjusted mean difference (Δ) was 0.54 (95 % CI: 0.22-0.85). The mean diastolic blood pressure in the intervention group was 2.6 mmHg (95 % CI; -5.5 to 0.15) lower compared to the usual care group.

Conclusion: A short intervention of customized SMS can improve medication adherence and effect stroke risk factors like diastolic blood pressure in stroke survivors with complex medication regimens living in resource poor areas.

Trial registration: Clinicaltrials.gov NCT01986023 last accessed at https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01986023.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Blood Pressure
  • Cell Phone
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Medication Adherence*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pakistan
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Psychological Theory
  • Reminder Systems
  • Secondary Prevention
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Stroke / drug therapy*
  • Text Messaging*


  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01986023