Homeless patients' perceptions about using cell phones to manage medications and attend appointments

Int J Pharm Pract. 2017 Jun;25(3):220-230. doi: 10.1111/ijpp.12321. Epub 2016 Nov 29.


Objectives: The objectives of this study were to (1) describe homeless persons' access and use of cell phones and their perceptions about using cell phone alerts to help manage medications and attend health care appointments and (2) identify demographic characteristics, medication use and appointment history and perceptions associated with interest in receiving cell phone alerts to manage medications and appointments.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted in 2013 at a homeless clinic in Virginia. The questionnaire comprised items about cell phone usage, ownership and functions such as text messaging. Participants reported medication use and appointment history, perceptions about cell phone alerts and interest in receiving alerts to manage medications and appointments. Descriptive statistics for all variables are reported. Logistic regression was used to examine predictors of interest in using a cell phone to manage medications and appointments.

Key findings: A total of 290 participants completed the survey; 89% had a cell phone. Seventy-seven percent were interested in appointment reminders, whereas 66%, 60% and 54% were interested in refill reminders, medication taking reminders and medication information messages respectively. Those who believed reminders were helpful were more likely to be interested in medication taking, refill and appointment reminder messages compared to those who did not believe reminders were helpful. A history of running out of medicine and forgetting appointments were predictors of interest in refill and appointment reminders.

Conclusions: Mobile technology is a feasible method for communicating medication and appointment information to those experiencing or at risk for homelessness.

Keywords: appointment reminders; cell phone; homeless; medication adherence; mobile health.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Appointments and Schedules*
  • Cell Phone / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Homeless Persons / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medication Therapy Management / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Compliance
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Text Messaging