How do patients respond to text messaging in primary care?
20 April 2020
A review of the use of text messaging in primary care, including whether people respond to text messages from their primary care provider and how do primary care providers manage non-responses to text messages.
This review aimed to answer the following questions:
How many people respond to text messages from their primary care provider?
How do primary care providers manage non-responses to text messages?
Are there any demographic differences between responders and non-responders of text messages from their primary care provider?
Overview of findings
There is minimal evidence on response to text messages from primary care providers, particularly on characteristics of non-responders. Response varies considerably depending on patient groups and health condition.
Studies generally show that use of bidirectional text messaging in primary care is feasible, but response from patients decreases over time after messaging has been initiated by healthcare practitioners. Tailored or personalised text messaging leads to better response and improved patient outcomes. Increased patient engagement with text messages typically has a positive impact for patient outcomes.
As most studies typically involved active participant recruitment, engagement with the study was likely to lead to higher response to text messages than would be expected in the general population.
We also highlight that, due to COVID-19, current responses to text messaging may also be substantially different to that found in previous studies, making the use of peer-reviewed evidence to answer these research questions challenging.