Text messages or reminders on cell phones encourages healthy habits amongst people, a new study has shown.
The research study published in the November issue of the Archives of Dermatology suggests that reminders can be helpful in taking prescribed medications on time.
April Armstrong, director of the UC Davis Teledermatology Program, who led the study said: "Our study showed that people do respond to reminders.
"Cell phones are a smart way to communicate regularly with patients because people take them everywhere.
"At the start of the study, we did not know how people would react to getting text messages as reminders.
"But the measurable differences we found in behavior were encouraging and exciting and suggest that using common communication tools can sometimes reap substantial benefits and opportunities to improve health and health care."
As part of the study, 70 healthy people in the Boston were assigned to two groups and told to apply sunscreen daily.
One group received a two-part text message every morning: a weather report and a message reminding them to wear sunscreen. The control group received no text messages.
Armstrong added: "Our goals were to keep the messages short so that they could be read at a glance and to have a good hook."
Some of the messages included "Slap on some sunscreen" and "Sunscreen is your friend."
After six weeks, researchers calculated the total number of days per week that people in the two groups applied sunscreen.
They then determined the average daily adherence rate. Those who did not receive the messages had an average daily adherence rate of 30 percent, meaning they used sunscreen less than about one day in three.
The group that received the messages had an average daily adherence rate of 56.1 percent.
Armstrong ended: "Our team showed that an inexpensive and convenient technology can result in behavior changes that could potentially improve a person's health."