Randomized controlled trial of text message reminders for increasing influenza vaccination

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Annals of Family Medicine


Annals of Family Medicine, Inc

Place of Publication

United States


School of Medical and Health Sciences




Regan, A. K., Bloomfield, L., Peters, I., & Effler, P. V. (2017). Randomized controlled trial of text message reminders for increasing influenza vaccination. The Annals of Family Medicine, 15(6), 507-514. https://doi.org/10.1370/afm.2120


PURPOSE: Seasonal influenza vaccine is recommended and funded for groups at higher risk of serious infection, but uptake is suboptimal. We conducted a randomized controlled trial of short message service (SMS) reminders for influenza vaccination. METHODS Six weeks after seasonal influenza vaccinations began, we identified high-risk patients who had a mobile telephone number on record at 10 practices in Western Australia. Thirty-two percent of the selected patients had already been vaccinated in the current year and were ineligible. Of the remaining 12,354 eligible patients at each practice one-half were randomly assigned to receive a vaccination reminder by SMS (intervention) and the rest received no SMS (con-trol). Approximately 3 months after the SMS was sent (the study period), vaccination data were extracted from the patients’ electronic medical records. Log-bino-mial regression models were used to calculate the relative risk (RR) of vaccination between the intervention and control group. RESULTS Twelve-percent (769 of 6,177) of the intervention group and 9% (548 of 6,177) of the control group were vaccinated during the study period, a 39% relative increase attributable to the SMS (RR = 1.39; 95% CI, 1.26-1.54). For every 29 SMSs sent, costing $3.48, 1 additional high-risk patient was immunized. The greatest effect was observed for children younger than 5 years, whose parents were more than twice as likely to have their child vaccinated if they received a SMS reminder (RR = 2.43; 95% CI, 1.79-3.29). CONCLUSION We found SMS reminders to be a modestly effective, low-cost means to increase seasonal influenza vaccine coverage among high-risk patients.



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