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School funded research to develop and test a tailored interactive voice response (IVR) has had some positive results.

Automated tailored telephone support, or interactive voice response (IVR), could help people to take important medicines that have been prescribed for them to reduce the impact of risky health conditions and improve their health.

In England, about 8 million people have recorded hypertension, or high blood pressure, which often accompanies other risky conditions, including type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke. Although doctors do prescribe medication to reduce hypertension, substantial proportions of people with these conditions don’t take their medicines as prescribed. Non-adherence reduces the effectiveness of treatment and increases the cost to the NHS from hospital admissions, additional consultations, referrals, investigations and medicine wastage. GP surgeries lack the time to provide ongoing support for medication adherence to people with long-term conditions.

Research, the majority of which was conducted in the USA, shows that IVR interventions does have an important effect on supporting medication adherence. Now, Vikki Houghton and Dr Katerina Kassavou, at the Behavioural Science Group, University of Cambridge's Primary Care Unit, are researching a new IVR intervention for the UK in this study. Addenbrooke’s Outpatients provided the ideal setting to ask the public for ideas to feed into the development of a new intervention. 


Since we are developing an interactive voice response (IVR) system to help people with taking their medications as prescribed, we saw the value in having the patients and public’s view on the intervention and the type of messages patients could receive."

- Vikki Houghton

 The researchers asked members of the public for their help, inviting people at Addenbrooke’s Outpatients to suggest messages that could be used during the intervention. 

Vikki explained: “Overall it was a great success, with many people approaching our table to find out more and to also share their experiences and advice with taking medications. We were extremely encouraged by their reaction to the IVR system, with the consensus being that the intervention would be helpful for encouraging and reminding people to take their medication. We finished with a pile of written messages from the public, which we will be using to guide the content for the IVR telephone calls.”

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