Mobile Telephone Short Message Service Reminders Can Reduce Nonattendance in Physical Therapy Outpatient Clinics: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Published:October 17, 2011DOI:


      Taylor NF, Bottrell J, Lawler K, Benjamin D. Mobile telephone short message service reminders can reduce nonattendance in physical therapy outpatient clinics: a randomized controlled trial.


      To investigate whether short message service (SMS) reminders reduce nonattendance in physical therapy outpatient clinics.


      Prospective single-blinded randomized controlled trial.


      Two physical therapy outpatient departments in metropolitan acute public hospitals.


      Participants with an appointment in a physical therapy outpatient clinic and who provided a contact mobile telephone number were included. Participants were excluded if their appointment was scheduled for the same day on which they made the appointment.


      Participants allocated to the intervention group received an SMS reminder before their next appointment; participants allocated to the control group did not receive a reminder.

      Main Outcome Measures

      The primary outcome was rate of nonattendance without cancellation. Secondary outcomes were cancellation and attendance rates and exploration of other factors associated with nonattendance.


      Patients (N=679) were allocated to receive either an SMS reminder (n=342) or no reminder (n=337). The nonattendance rate for patients who did not receive a reminder (16%) was more than nonattendance for patients receiving the SMS reminder (11%; odds ratio, 1.61; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.03–2.51; number needed to treat, 19; 95% CI, 9–275). There were no differences in cancellation or attendance rates between groups. Exploration of other factors found that patients who were younger with a neck and trunk musculoskeletal or a neuromuscular disorder and who were scheduled to have an initial appointment or an appointment on a Monday or Friday were significantly predictive of increased nonattendance.


      SMS reminders can reduce nonattendance in physical therapy outpatient clinics.

      Key Words

      List of Abbreviations:

      CI (confidence interval), NNT (number needed to treat), OR (odds ratio), SMS (short message service)
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