Background Patients who do not attend (DNA) booked GU medicine (GUM) clinics waste resources and may pose a public health risk through onward transmission of sexually transmitted infections. Short message services (SMS) appointment reminders improve attendance rates, however the impact of their use in patients who have already DNA'd is unknown. In addition, health promotional tools are frequently used to improve STI awareness however there is little evidence for their effect on GUM clinic attendance.
Aims To determine whether SMS follow-up of patients who DNA booked GUM appointments improves subsequent re-attendance rates and to assess the impact of inclusion of a health promotional message on re-attendance rates.
Methods This prospective randomised control study included all patients aged 16–30 yrs who DNA a booked GUM appointment during the 6 month study period. Subjects were randomised to: (1) no intervention; (2) SMS notification of the defaulted appointment and invitation to attend clinic; (3) as per arm 2 including a health promotional message about Chlamydia. All SMS were sent 1 week after the defaulted appointment. Patients re-booking or attending prior to this time were excluded. The proportion of patients who re-attend within 4 weeks of the defaulted appointment were compared using the Fisher's Exact test.
Results 252 patients were included. 4.5% (4/88) in the control group re-attended clinic compared to 8.2% (7/85) receiving a text reminder (p=0.36) and 15.2% (12/79) when a health promotional message (p=0.032). None of those re attending in the control group were diagnosed with an STI compared to 29% in group 2 (Gonorrhoea and Chlamydia) and 25% in group 3 (2 × Chlamydia and 1 Herpes).
Discussion SMS follow-up of clinic defaulters improves subsequent re-attendance rates if a health promotional message is included. The addition of a health promotional message to current routine clinic reminder texts may reduce DNA rates and warrants further study.