Try our beta test site
IMPORTANT: Listing of a study on this site does not reflect endorsement by the National Institutes of Health. Talk with a trusted healthcare professional before volunteering for a study. Read more...

Are Text Message Reminders an Effective Intervention for Improving the Uptake of Breast Screening?

This study has been completed.
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust Identifier:
First received: October 9, 2013
Last updated: January 26, 2015
Last verified: October 2013

Breast Cancer is the single most common cancer, and the third leading cause of cancer cancer deaths, in the United Kingdom. Breast screening is able to detect breast cancer in the early stages of development, during which time it is more easily treatable. Unfortunately, many patients do not attend screening, and surveys issued to these women consistently report "forgetfulness" as the primary reason for missing the appointment. Both telephone reminders and postal reminders have been shown to reduce non-attendance, however, these are time consuming and expensive.

Mobile telephones are becoming an increasingly popular tool for communication between healthcare professionals and patients, one which might offer an inexpensive solution for delivering reminders. Text message reminders have been able to prevent missed appointments in other areas of healthcare, and the same might be true for breast screening.

The investigators are conducting a trial to confirm whether this is the case or not.

In this trial, the investigators will send some women a text message to reminder them of their appointment, and other women no reminder for their appointment. The investigators will then compare the number of women in each group that went to their breast screening appointment.

Condition Intervention
Breast Screening
Other: Text Message Reminder for Breast Screening Appointment

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Single Blind (Participant)
Primary Purpose: Health Services Research
Official Title: A Randomised Controlled Trial Investigating the Efficacy and Effectiveness of Text Message Reminders to Improve Uptake of Breast Screening by Prevalent Women Living in the London Borough of Hillingdon

Further study details as provided by Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Number of women that participate in breast screening in the control (no text message reminder) compared with the number of women that participate in the intervention (text message reminder 48 hours before appointment). [ Time Frame: 12 months ]
    The primary outcome of the study will be the number of women that participate in breast screening in the control group, where no text message reminder is received, compared with the number of women that participate in breast screening in the intervention group, where a text message reminder is sent to the patient 48 hours in advance.

Secondary Outcome Measures:
  • Number of women with a valid mobile telephone number on the GP Clinical System [ Time Frame: 12 months ]
    A secondary outcome measure of the study will be: The number of women on the Gerneral Practitioner (GP) Clinical System that have a valid mobile telephone number.

Enrollment: 2454
Study Start Date: November 2012
Study Completion Date: November 2013
Primary Completion Date: November 2013 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Arms Assigned Interventions
No Intervention: No Text Message Reminder (Control) Arm
Control Arm, in which patients are invited to breast screening as per standard West of London Breast Screening Protocol (i.e. without a text message appointment reminder). Uptake of breast screening in this group will be compared with the text message reminder group to test for significant differences.
Experimental: Text Message Reminder Arm
Patients randomly allocated to this arm of the study will be sent a text message reminding them of the time, date and venue of their breast screening appointment 48 hours in advance.
Other: Text Message Reminder for Breast Screening Appointment
Other Name: iPlato Patient Care Messaging will be used to send the text message reminder to the patient.

Detailed Description:

Breast cancer is the single most common cancer in the United Kingdom, accounting for 16% of all cancer incidences and 7% of all cancer deaths. Fortunately, the natural progression of this malignancy can be beneficially changed through mammographic screening techniques, which enable early detection and treatment of benign and malignant breast disease. However, the success of screening programmes depends not only on the analytical specificity and sensitivity of the screening test itself, but also its ability to attract the "at risk" population. In the United Kingdom, the National Health Service Breast Screening Programme attracts about three quarters of the invited population every three years. In the last screening round (2007-2010), all but one region reported a triennial coverage of more than 75%; London was the exception, reporting a regional coverage of 69%. London consistently fails to meet the national target.

Missed appointments are a primary cause of inefficiency in healthcare delivery, with adverse clinical implications for the non-attending patient, and substantial monetary costs to the health service. To ensure the future success of the breast screening programme it is imperative that strategies for improving uptake of hard to reach populations be developed. Research has demonstrated that receiving an appointment reminder by text message has been successful in improving uptake in other areas of healthcare; the same might be true for breast screening.

Primary Aim: To establish whether text message reminders can significantly improve the uptake of breast screening by women on an "intention-to-treat" basis in the London Borough of Hillingdon.

Secondary Aim: To evaluate whether text message reminders are an effective intervention for improving uptake of the breast screening programme by hard to reach patients such as women living in deprived areas, and those of Black and Minority ethnic backgrounds.

Methodology: A single blind randomised controlled trial evaluating the effectiveness, efficacy, and acceptability of sending a text message appointment reminder to prevalent women (women aged 47-53 years) living in the London Borough of Hillingdon 48 hours prior to their first breast screening appointment. 2,239 women without a history of breast screening, implant, or bilateral mastectomy were included in the study and randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to either the control group (n= 1,118) or the intervention group (n= 1,121). Women in the control group were invited to screening but received no reminder for their appointment, whilst women in the intervention group received a text message reminder 48 hours in advance. All women received an information letter about the study with their invitation from the West of London Breast Screening Service, which included a patient "opt-out" request form. Patients were not told whether they would be receiving a text message reminder or not. iPlato Patient Care Messaging was used to deliver the text-message reminders.


Ages Eligible for Study:   47 Years to 53 Years   (Adult)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   Female
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes

Inclusion Criteria:

Women aged 47-53 years, being invited for their first breast screen, without a history of breast disease or malignancy, living in the London Borough of Hillingdon, were eligible for inclusion in the trial.

Exclusion Criteria:

Women with a history of breast disease, malignancy, bi-lateral mastectomy, or breast screen, aged over 54 years were not eligible for inclusion in the trial. Non-routine appointments, male appointments, and self referrals were also not eligible for inclusion.

  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT01977599

United Kingdom
Charing Cross Hospital
Hammersmith, London, United Kingdom, W6 8RF
Sponsors and Collaborators
Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust
Study Chair: Ellis Friedman, FFPH London Borough of Sutton
Study Chair: Heema Shukla, PhD Public Health England
Study Chair: Deborah Cunningham, MBBS Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust
Principal Investigator: Robert S Kerrison, BSc Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust
  More Information

Responsible Party: Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust Identifier: NCT01977599     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: 7114/P21R
12/EM/0418 ( Other Identifier: NRES Committe East Midlands - Derby )
Study First Received: October 9, 2013
Last Updated: January 26, 2015

Keywords provided by Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust:
Text message reminders
Short Message Service (SMS) Reminders
Social Health Inequalities
Breast Screening
Public Health Intervention
Missed Appointments
Non-attendance processed this record on April 28, 2017