Event-based reminders are programs that are connected to another device or feature and will trigger when certain conditions are met. The simplest event reminder is a feature such as the low battery warning on a cellphone. Event reminders are useful on wearable technology (link) (for example heart rate monitors) as well as medications (when doses are low). Like common timers, location-based reminders can be used to send a signal such as a beep, vibration, text message, or even play a song from a playlist. Basic timed reminders are effective in prompting behavior; multiple studies have cited patients increasing their adherence to medication schedules by an average of 85% (Sarabi et al., 2016). The studies testing event reminders specifically have shown similar (albeit less clear) positive trends.
In the fitness and healthcare realms, event reminders have been shown to help with fitness training, increasing physical activity, weight loss, and overall health (Strath & Rowley, 2017). Event based reminders have also been used with asthma inhalers to track how frequently patients are using them. Results showed patients with the reminders used their inhalers 30-40% more frequently than patients who didn’t (Foster et al., 2014). While the amount of studies evaluating specifically event reminders is limited, the findings are similar to the effectiveness of basic timed reminders.
Research Rating: There is sufficient evidence to show that reminders apps increase the frequency of desired behavior. The limited evidence that is available on event based reminders specifically is consistent with the larger body of research on reminder apps, however further confirmation of these results would strengthen these claims.
Very easy to use, making these feasible for lower functioning individuals
Effective at keeping individuals on schedule
Can be loaded onto a smartphone
Most of the research is related to medication; may not be as strong effects for more complicated and effortful tasks
As with all reminders, too many reminders has been shown to frustrate individuals. Multiple reminders per day has been described by individuals in studies as “excessive” and “annoying”. Furthermore, making reminders too frequent may reduce the effects of each reminder notification as individuals can build up a tolerance to these notifications and get used to ignoring them (Sarabi et al., 2016).
Special Consideration: Workflow
Exact prices change frequently, which is why only approximate ranges are listed.
$ - Under $5
$$ - Between $6 and $50
$$$ - Between $51 and $250
$$$$ - Over $250
Foster, J. M., Usherwood, T., Smith, L., Sawyer, S. M., Xuan, W., Rand, C. S., & Reddel, H. K. (2014). Inhaler reminders improve adherence with controller treatment in primary care patients with asthma. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 134(6). doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2014.05.041
Sarabi, R. E., Sadoughi, F., Orak, R. J., & Bahaadinbeigy, K. (2016). The Effectiveness of Mobile Phone Text Messaging in Improving Medication Adherence for Patients with Chronic Diseases: A Systematic Review. Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal, 18(5). doi:10.5812/ircmj.25183
Siersma, V., Kousgaard, M. B., Reventlow, S., Ertmann, R., Felding, P., & Waldorff, F. B. (2014). The effectiveness of computer reminders versus postal reminders for improving quality assessment for point-of-care testing in primary care: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, 21(1), 13-20. doi:10.1111/jep.12210
Strath, S. J., & Rowley, T. W. (2017). Wearables for Promoting Physical Activity. Clinical Chemistry, 64(1), 53-63. doi:10.1373/clinchem.2017.272369
Written by Francis Wall, Last Revision April 2018