A friendly text message reminder could make the world of difference for the completion of HPV vaccines, according to a new study. Text messages were aimed at a low-income, urban, minority population and the findings will be presented during the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) 2019 Meeting, in Baltimore.
“HPV vaccine is a critical cancer-protecting vaccine; yet, only half of adolescents have received their needed doses,” said Melissa Stockwell, MD, MPH, FAAP, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Population and Family Health at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, the lead author of the study. “Even among those who start the series, only three-quarters get all the doses needed for protection. In this study, we found that text message vaccine reminders are a powerful, rapid and scalable way to help encourage families to have adolescents complete their vaccine series.”
In the study, funded by AHRQ, eligible nine to 17 year-olds who received their first HPV vaccine at four affiliated community clinics in Northern Manhattan from December 2014 to December 2016 were randomized to receive one of two types of text message, vaccine reminders.
The conventional texts included the next dose due date and site-specific walk-in hours. The educational reminders included education information that was targeted to the parent’s stage of vaccine decision-making. The outcome indicated a timely HPV vaccine series completion within 12 months.
Chi-square analyses compared the intervention arms to concurrent non-enrollees who received their first vaccine dose, but were not enrolled because they were ineligible, not able to be contacted, or refused. Additionally, the participants were compared to historical controls; this was determined if the first dose was administered between 2011 and 2013. For this, adolescents from the intervention arms who only needed two doses to complete the series were removed.
Overall, 956 patients of 1,264 eligible families enrolled in the study. Half the adolescents were female and primarily Latino (89 percent), and less than or equal to 14 years old (92 percent). Ninety-four percent were publicly insured.
Ultimately, both text message arms had high completion rates within 12 months: educational (72.4 percent versus conventional 75.7 percent). The individuals who participated in any text message arm had significantly higher completion rates than non-enrollees. Lastly, a population-wide effect was also seen during the study from 2014 to 2016 that were above historical trends.