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Research funded by the School and the NIHR RfPB suggests that automated phone calls could be effective at helping patients to take their medicines as prescribed.

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The pilot study, funded by the NIHR Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) programme and the NIHR School for Primary Care Research, looked at 17 patients with high blood pressure recruited from general practices in the East of England.

The patients received daily automated telephone calls for one month that provided them with advice and support about taking their prescribed medicines. The calls also asked a series of interactive questions and reacted to the patients’ answers.

The research, published in BMJ Open, showed that patients found the calls helped them to overcome barriers to taking medications, such as being busy or having many medications to take. They also said it helped them understand the importance of taking medication itself.

The next stage of the research will involve using text messages as well as automated phone calls to help patients take their medicines. This approach is being tested for efficacy in a randomised controlled trial with more than 100 patients recruited by GP practices.

Lead researcher Dr Katerina Kassavou, from the Department of Public Health and Primary Care at the University of Cambridge, said: “The early signs are that this digital intervention is well liked by patients and could play an important role in helping patients manage their medicines. We now need to make sure it works in a wider population and to demonstrate that it is a cost-effective intervention.”

Full release from the University of Cambridge