Researchers have found out that women who are sent a text message to remind them of their breast cancer screening appointment are more likely to go to the doctor than women who are not texted.
The study was published in the British Journal of Cancer and was financed by the Imperial College Healthcare Charity. The lead author of the study was Robert Kerrison of University College London, Cancer Research UK health behavior unit.
The subjects of the study were 835 women with ages between 47 and 53 years who were asked to attend their first appointment for breast cancer screening. 450 of the women were notified about their appointment through a text message, whereas 135 women were not. The results showed that 72% of the women who were sent a text attended their appointment while only 60% of the women who were not reminded about the appointment went to the doctor.
The message text had a big impact mainly on women coming from deprived areas who were 28% more likely to attend their appointment for breast cancer screening if they were sent a text. As long as the women who did not show up for their appointment are concerned, it looks like although they did not go to the doctor, they were three times more likely to cancel their appointment in advance if they were sent a text.
Robert Kerrison said that everybody forgets things now and then and appointments to see the doctor make no exception. In fact, he added, forgetting is the most common reason why women do not attend their breast cancer screening appointments. Kerrison’s research proved that a simple and cheap text message can boost the number of women who attend their appointments and also the number of women who cancel their appointment in advance. Through this a lot of NHS (National Health Service) resources can be saved.
The head of health information at Cancer Research UK, Dr. Julie Sharp, explained that studies like these can help discover the obstacles that prevent women from attending their screening appointments. Cancer screening can indeed save lives, but Dr. Sharp draws attention to the fact that there are both benefits and risks. First of all people should be provided with the right information about what screening involves and be helped when taking the decision of accepting a screening invitation or not.
Image Source: TextMarks
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