A Randomized Controlled Trial on the Usefulness of Mobile Text Phone Messages to Improve the Quality of Care of HIV and AIDS Patients in Cameroon



Dickson Shey Nsagha1, *, Innocent Lange1, Peter Nde Fon1, Jules Clement Nguedia Assob2, Elvis Asangbeng Tanue1
1 Department of Public Health and Hygiene, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Buea, Box 12, Buea, Cameroon, Africa
2 Department of Medical Laboratory Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Buea, Box 12, Buea, Cameroon, Africa


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© Nsagha et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International Public License (CC BY-NC 4.0) (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/legalcode), which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Public Health and Hygiene, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Buea, Box 12, Buea, Cameroon, Africa; Tel: +237 677499429.; E-mails: nsaghads@hotmail.com or dsnsagha@gmail.com.


Abstract

Background:

HIV and AIDS are major public health problems in the world and Africa. In Cameroon, the HIV prevalence is 5.1%. Cellphones have been found to be useful in the provision of modern health care services using short message services (SMS). This study assessed the effectiveness of SMS in improving the adherence of people living with HIV and AIDS to their treatment and care in Cameroon.

Methods:

This intervention study used a randomized controlled trial design. Ninety participants seeking treatment at the Nkwen Baptist Health Center were recruited between August and September 2011 using a purposive sampling method. They were randomly allocated into the intervention and control groups, each containing 45 participants. In the intervention group, each participant received four SMSs per week at equal intervals for four weeks. The patients were investigated for adherence to ARVs by evaluating the number of times treatment and medication refill appointments were missed. Data were collected using an interviewer-administered questionnaire before and after intervention and analysed on STATA.

Results:

The baseline survey indicated that there were 55(61.1%) females and 35(38.9%) males aged 23 - 62 years; the mean age was 38.77 ± 1.08. Most participants were teachers [12 (13.3%)], farmers [11 (12.2%)], and businessmen [24 (26.7%)]. Adherence to ARVs was 64.4% in the intervention group and 44.2% in the control group (p = 0.05). 2(4.4%) patients in the control group failed to respect their drug refill appointments while all the 45(100%) participants in the intervention group respected their drug refill appointments. 54.17% of married people and 42.9% of the participants with primary and secondary levels of education missed their treatment. Key reasons for missing treatment were late home coming (54%), forgetfulness (22.5%), and travelling out of station without medication (17.5%). Other factors responsible for non-adherence included involvement in outdoor business (60.87%), ARV stock out (37.8%), and not belonging to a support group (10.23%). Twenty eight (62.22%) subjects in the intervention group were able to take their treatment regularly and on time.

Conclusion:

SMS improved adherence to ARVs. Key constraints which affect adhere to ARV medication can be addressed using SMS.

Keywords: Adherence, AIDS, Antiretroviral, Cameroon, Cellphone message, Defaulting, HIV, Treatment.