Study: Text Messages Can Improve Use of Preventive Services, Vaccination Rates

May 4, 2012 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care


The use of text message reminders increased vaccination rates among underserved children and adolescents by about 4% compared with those who received an automated telephone reminder, concludes a study published April 25, 2012, in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study includes data on roughly 7,600 patients age 6 months to 18 years who received care at one of four community-based clinics in New York City during the 2010 to 2011 flu season. Those who received the intervention were sent five text messages; the first three messages informed parents about the safety and effectiveness of influenza vaccination and the next two messages offered information about Saturday vaccination clinics. The researchers found that vaccination rates increased slightly, with 43.6% of the intervention group and 39.9% of the control group getting vaccinated. While vaccination rates remained low, the impact was significant for a relatively low-cost intervention. The authors observe that recent studies show that telephone-based patient reminders targeting low-income populations have had minimal or no effect. Patients in this study were primarily ethnic or racial minorities.

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