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Motivational SMS’s don’t improve HIV/AIDS therapy adherence – Cameroon study

Sending weekly motivational text messages has been found to do little in ensuring patients living with HIV/AIDS adhere to antiretroviral treatment (ART), according to a study carried out in Cameroon.

Lawrence Mbuagbaw, lead author of the study and a researcher at Yaoundé Central Hospital’s Centre for the Development of Best Practices in Health and at Canada’s McMaster University, said the study did not show a strong association between the motivational SMS texts and adherence to ART.

“Our study did not find a significant effect from motivational SMS texts on improving adherence to antiretroviral treatment over a six-month period,” he said.

The result contradicts the conclusions of similar studies that were conducted in South Africa and the popular Kenyan WelTel trial, both of which endorsed the use of motivational texts in encouraging patients’ strict adherence to treatment. The earlier studies described the reminder texts as ART adherence boosters.

The aim of the trial was to affirm the efficacy of the use of mobile phones to improve adherence to ART treatment. According to the lead investigator, motivation was needed due to the impact of stigma is having of treatment adherence, in addition to the cost of treatment in a resource-constrained country like Cameroon.

200 participants were enlisted for the study using the nation’s largest HIV/AIDS accredited treatment centre located in the nation’s capital city of Yaoundé. Age was an exclusion factor in the study with participants required to be 21 years or older and needed to have been receiving ART for a minimum duration of one month.

The researchers measured adherence with the aid of a visual analogue scale which is a device which analyses character or attitude across a spectrum from none to extreme. The investigators concluded that a larger number of study participants failed to adhere to treatment, this included participants that received text message reminders.

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