People see it as a challenge/want to please you
When contacting participants to inform them that the second stage of the study was starting soon, I received a reply saying:
Won’t let you down
This particular participant had been one of the least adherent of them all, and from that message, it seemed like they felt it was a challenge to improve their performance. I believe this type of response is more likely because of the short time frame between stages one and two. In further studies, I would lengthen the ‘break’ between stages as much as I could (time permitting) so that the participants had time to forget about their adherence performance in the first stage.
Smartphones want to set calendar reminders on your phone based on the content of the SMS message
When testing the welcome message for the second stage of the trial, I wanted to point out the to the participants that they should take their Tic-Tac at the same time that they took it during the first stage. The reason for this was so that the results wouldn’t be biassed by participants choosing a new more convenient time based on their learnings. I wanted the only variable for both stages to be the reminder.
The instructions said:
…You will need to take one Tic-Tac twice a day (at the same time each day) for the next 7 days. You should take your Tic-Tac’s at the same time you took them during the first stage of the study 8am and 8pm.
But when received on an iPhone it showed up as
The highlighted times are a way that Apple allow its users to quickly and easily create calendar event reminders on their phone using the information they receive in their messages.
In my experiments, this could be an issue for the non-intervention group as they could use it as a convenient way to create a reminder for themselves that would be different to their normal method.
Accidental proof of concept
In the broader sense and thinking about user needs, stumbling across this could be an easy one-stop way of users creating their own reminders without the overhead of a complicated service being set up. They could receive one message with all the information they need for their prescription and add it to their calendar. The downside of this method is that they wouldn’t be able to get the pill count of how many pills were remaining but they could view how long they had to go by checking their calendar.
A participant under the experimental condition in the first stage of the study commented;
The message was sometimes annoying.
However, when in the second stage of the study whilst under control condition, and asked about their method of remembering to take their medication, they showed me that they had set up their own reminder on their phone.
Although not perfect, the above proof of concept shows how one SMS message could be used to initiate the creation of a calendar reminder in a user’s phone.
I am sure that with further tweaking of the text recurring events could be created, rather than a 7-day long event in the user’s calendar.
Limitations of the study
Ensuring participants treated the Tic-Tac’s like real medication
I was aware that it was not real medication. Would have been more strict if it was.