Texting may be good for your health

December 19, 2013

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- New University of Michigan research says that a simple tool right in your back pocket may help decrease your risk for type 2 diabetes: Text messages on your phone.

An overwhelming majority of surveyed people who enrolled in customized texting service txt4health piloted in Detroit and Cincinnati last year said the free mobile education program made them more aware of their diabetes risk and more likely to make diet-related behavior changes and lose weight. The service was also launched in New Orleans but those participants were not included in the study.

While the program seemed to work well for those who completed it, only 39 percent stuck through all 14 weeks. The findings appear in two new studies published online in the Journal of Medical Internet Research today.

"We found that this method of health intervention had potential to significantly influence people's health habits and have great reach - however, sustained participant engagement across the 14 weeks was lower than desired," says lead author of both studies Lorraine R. Buis, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the U-M Medical School.

"It's clear that a text message program may not be appropriate for everyone; however, for a large subset of people, this may be a feasible, acceptable, and useful strategy to motivate positive behavior changes."

Most participants reported that after completing the program, they were more likely to replace sugary drinks with water (78 percent), have a piece of fresh fruit instead of dessert (74 percent), substitute a small salad for chips or fries when dining out (76 percent), buy healthier foods when grocery shopping (80 percent), and eat more grilled, baked, or broiled foods instead of fried (76 percent).

The majority of survey respondents also reported that text messages were easy to understand (100 percent), that the program made them knowledgeable of their risk for developing type 2 diabetes (88 percent) and more aware of their dietary and physical activity habits (89 percent). Eighty-eight percent also said they enjoyed participating in the program.

The txt4health initiative is a large, public health focused text message-based program that aims to raise type 2 diabetes risk awareness, as well as facilitate weekly weight and physical activity self-monitoring to lower diabetes risk. Both pilots were supported by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. In Detroit, the program was by the Southeast Michigan Beacon Community and Cincinnati's program was led by the Greater Cincinnati Beacon Collaborative. The groups launched txt4health as part of each city's campaign to educate the public about diabetes and prevention.

Researchers enrolled 1,838 participants in the program who were asked to answer background questions in order to get personalized health tips and recommendations over 14 weeks. Overall, roughly 74 percent of participants completed the diabetes risk assessment, 89 percent tracked their weight and 55 percent reported their physical activity at least once during the program.

"Text message programs may be a useful tool when used as a component in a broad-based public health campaign," Buis says. "However, sole reliance on this strategy may be cautioned when targeting a general population because the level of individual engagement widely varies.

"We need to further explore ways to improve retention rates among participants."
-end-
Additional Authors: Lindsey Hirzel, M.A., of Wayne State University; Scott A. Turske, B.A. and Terrisca R. Des Jardins, M.H.S.A, of the Southeast Michigan Beacon Community; Hossein Yarandi, Ph.D., of Wayne State University; and Patricia Bondurant, D.N.P., R.N., of the Greater Cincinnati Beacon Collaborative

Disclosures: None

Funding: Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (Cooperative Agreements #90BC0017 and #90BC0016)

Reference: "Use of a Text Message Program to Raise Type 2 Diabetes Risk Awareness and Promote Health Behavior Change (Part I): Assessment of Participant Reach and Adoption," J Med Internet Res 2013: doi:10.2196/jmir.2928

"Use of a Text Message Program to Raise Type 2 Diabetes Risk Awareness and Promote Health Behavior Change (Part II): Assessment of Participants' Perceptions on Efficacy," J Med Internet Res 2013: doi:10.2196/jmir.2929

University of Michigan Health System

Related Diabetes Articles from Brightsurf:

New diabetes medication reduced heart event risk in those with diabetes and kidney disease
Sotagliflozin - a type of medication known as an SGLT2 inhibitor primarily prescribed for Type 2 diabetes - reduces the risk of adverse cardiovascular events for patients with diabetes and kidney disease.

Diabetes drug boosts survival in patients with type 2 diabetes and COVID-19 pneumonia
Sitagliptin, a drug to lower blood sugar in type 2 diabetes, also improves survival in diabetic patients hospitalized with COVID-19, suggests a multicenter observational study in Italy.

Making sense of diabetes
Throughout her 38-year nursing career, Laurel Despins has progressed from a bedside nurse to a clinical nurse specialist and has worked in medical, surgical and cardiac intensive care units.

Helping teens with type 1 diabetes improve diabetes control with MyDiaText
Adolescence is a difficult period of development, made more complex for those with Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM).

Diabetes-in-a-dish model uncovers new insights into the cause of type 2 diabetes
Researchers have developed a novel 'disease-in-a-dish' model to study the basic molecular factors that lead to the development of type 2 diabetes, uncovering the potential existence of major signaling defects both inside and outside of the classical insulin signaling cascade, and providing new perspectives on the mechanisms behind insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes and possibly opportunities for the development of novel therapeutics for the disease.

Tele-diabetes to manage new-onset diabetes during COVID-19 pandemic
Two new case studies highlight the use of tele-diabetes to manage new-onset type 1 diabetes in an adult and an infant during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Genetic profile may predict type 2 diabetes risk among women with gestational diabetes
Women who go on to develop type 2 diabetes after having gestational, or pregnancy-related, diabetes are more likely to have particular genetic profiles, suggests an analysis by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and other institutions.

Maternal gestational diabetes linked to diabetes in children
Children and youth of mothers who had gestational diabetes during pregnancy are at increased risk of diabetes themselves, according to new research published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Two diabetes medications don't slow progression of type 2 diabetes in youth
In youth with impaired glucose tolerance or recent-onset type 2 diabetes, neither initial treatment with long-acting insulin followed by the drug metformin, nor metformin alone preserved the body's ability to make insulin, according to results published online June 25 in Diabetes Care.

People with diabetes visit the dentist less frequently despite link between diabetes, oral health
Adults with diabetes are less likely to visit the dentist than people with prediabetes or without diabetes, finds a new study led by researchers at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing and East Carolina University's Brody School of Medicine.

Read More: Diabetes News and Diabetes Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.