Journal of Zhejiang University SCIENCE B

, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 34–38 | Cite as

Comparison of an SMS text messaging and phone reminder to improve attendance at a health promotion center: A randomized controlled trial

  • Zhou-wen Chen
  • Li-zheng Fang
  • Li-ying Chen
  • Hong-lei Dai



To compare the efficacy of a short messaging service (SMS) text messaging and phone reminder to improve attendance rates at a health promotion center.


A total of 1 859 participants who had scheduled appointments in the health promotion center of our hospital from April 2007 to May 2007 were enrolled in the study and randomly assigned into 3 groups: control (no reminder) group, SMS text messaging reminder group and telephone reminder group. Attendance rates and costs of interventions were collected.


A total of 1848 participants were eligible for analysis. Attendance rates of control, SMS and telephone groups were 80.5%, 87.5% and 88.3%, respectively. The attendance rates were significantly higher in SMS and telephone groups than that in the control group, with odds ratio 1.698, 95% confidence interval 1.224 to 2.316, P=0.001 in the SMS group, and odds ratio 1.829, 95% confidence interval 1.333 to 2.509, P<0.001 in the telephone group. However, there was no difference between the SMS group and the telephone group (P=0.670). The cost effectiveness analysis showed that the cost per attendance for the SMS group (0.31 Yuan) was significantly lower than that for the telephone group (0.48 Yuan).


SMS and telephone are effective reminders for improving attendance rate at a health promotion center. SMS reminder may be more cost-effective compared with the telephone reminder.

Key words

Reminder Short messaging service (SMS) Telephone Failure to attend (FTA) Randomized controlled trial (RCT) 

CLC number



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zhou-wen Chen
    • 1
  • Li-zheng Fang
    • 1
  • Li-ying Chen
    • 1
  • Hong-lei Dai
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of General Practice, Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital, School of MedicineZhejiang UniversityHangzhouChina

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