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The utility of short message service (SMS) texts to remind patients at higher risk of STIs and HIV to reattend for testing: a controlled before and after study
  1. Jessica Burton,
  2. Gary Brook,
  3. John McSorley,
  4. Siobhan Murphy
  1. Department of Sexual Health and HIV, Central Middlesex Hospital, North West London Hospitals NHS Trust, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Gary Brook, Patrick Clements Clinic, Central Middlesex Hospital, Acton Lane, London NW10 7NS, UK; gary.brook{at}


Background Patients attending for sexually transmitted infection (STI)/HIV testing may be at continuing risk of infection and advised to return for retesting at a later date.

Objectives To measure the impact of short message service (SMS) text reminders on the reattendance rates of patients who require repeat STI testing.

Methods Reattendance rates were measured for two groups of higher risk patients: those listed for routine SMS text reminders in 2012 and a control group of patients from 2011 with the same risk profile who had not received any active recall. Reattendance was counted if it was within 4 months of the end of the episode of care.

Results Reattendance rates were not statistically different between the text group 32% (89/274) and the control group 35% (92/266). Reattendance also was not statistically different between the text and control groups respectively in patients with the following risks: recent chlamydia 43/121 (36%) versus 41/123 (33%), recent gonorrhoea 4/21 (19%) versus 7/21 (33%), recent emergency contraception 27/60 (45%) versus 25/56 (45%) and other risks 7/27 (26%) versus 9/26 (35%). High rates of STIs were found in patients who reattended in both the text group (13/90, 14%) and control group (15/91, 17%) and at even higher rates at reattendance if the reason for recall was chlamydia infection at the initial visit: 9/43 (21%) in the text group and 10/41 (24%) in the control group.

Conclusions SMS texts sent as reminders to patients at higher risk of STIs and HIV did not increase the reattendance rate, when compared with standard advice, in this service which already has a high reattendance rate. STI rates were high in those patients who reattended.

  • Chlamydia Infection
  • Service Delivery
  • Sexual Health
  • Contraception
  • Health Serv Research

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