Using SMS reminders in psychology clinics: a cautionary tale

Clough, Bonnie A. and Casey, Leanne M. (2014) Using SMS reminders in psychology clinics: a cautionary tale. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 42 (3). pp. 257-268. ISSN 1352-4658


Background: As healthcare services become progressively more stretched, there is increasing discussion of ways in which technological adjuncts may be used to deliver more cost-efficient services. Before widespread implementation, however, the use of these adjuncts requires proper scrutiny of their effects on psychological practice. Aims: This research examined the effectiveness of SMS reminders on client appointment attendance and dropout in a psychological treatment setting. It was predicted that the reminders would result in increased initial appointment attendance, increased total appointment attendance, and decreased client dropout. Method: A randomized controlled trial investigated the impact of SMS appointment
reminders (two levels: present or absent) on client attendance (three levels: attended, rescheduled, or did not attend) and dropout (two levels: completed treatment or terminate early). Participants (N = 140) at an outpatient psychology clinic were randomly allocated to either receive an SMS appointment reminder one day before their scheduled appointment, or to receive no reminder. Results: No significant differences were found between the SMS and
no SMS conditions in relation to appointment attendance. There were more client dropouts in the SMS compared to the no SMS condition. Conclusions: The SMS appointment reminders
were not effective at increasing appointment attendance. The current research suggests that there is more to client non-attendance in psychological settings than the simple forgetting of appointments. Technological adjuncts may be useful in increasing the cost-efficiency of current services; however, this research highlights the importance of understanding the effects of technology before widespread implementation.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: © British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies 2014.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Resilient Regions
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Resilient Regions
Date Deposited: 02 Feb 2017 04:58
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2017 04:58
Uncontrolled Keywords: reminders, SMS, ShortMessage Service, attendance, dropout, prompts, adherence
Fields of Research (2008): 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences > 1701 Psychology > 170106 Health, Clinical and Counselling Psychology
11 Medical and Health Sciences > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111714 Mental Health
Fields of Research (2020): 52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5203 Clinical and health psychology > 520399 Clinical and health psychology not elsewhere classified
42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4203 Health services and systems > 420313 Mental health services
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): C Society > 92 Health > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920410 Mental Health
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