Hypertension is a common problem in South Africa. In a collaboration between the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences and the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Oxford, and the Chronic Disease initiative in Africa, we are exploring ways to apply technology to improve the assessment and use of medicines in this group of people.

The *StAR Study or” SMS-text Adherence Support Study” is working with people who have high blood pressure attending a Community Health Centre in Cape Town. Automated blood pressure monitors are linked to portable computers to improve the efficiency of blood pressure assessment at each clinic visit, ensuring that measurements are more accurate. In addition, patients attending the clinic are invited to take part in a trial in which they are randomly allocated to receive different types of support by SMS text message. All data is recorded on portable computers and the data immediately transmitted to another secure computer to keep the information safe. The aim of the study is to see if there is an improvement in people’s blood pressure if they receive regular messages of support by SMS. Participants will receive SMS support for 12 months and will attend follow-up study visits at 6 months and 12 months. All of the study processes have been integrated into the usual programme of clinical care provided by the clinic. While receiving these messages over the period of a year, patients’ blood pressure will continue for 12 months.

The study is funded by the UK Wellcome Trust and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. 

For more information, contact Kirsten Bobrow.