A new study from Scripps Whittier Diabetes Institute outlined how texting could help individuals manage their type 2 diabetes. The study participants were Hispanics who received messages daily for half a year. The participants, researchers said, improved their blood sugar levels. This type of intervention could have the potential to improve the lives of many people with the disease. The study results were published in Diabetes Care.
Diabetes mellitus is commonly called diabetes. It is metabolic in nature, where high blood sugar levels are present in the body for extended periods of time. Diabetes can be found in one of three ways: type 1 diabetes; type 2 diabetes; and gestational diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas fails to make enough insulin to take care of the high blood sugar level. The cause is unknown. Type 2 diabetes is insulin resistant, meaning the body does not respond to insulin well. Obesity and lack of exercise are the common causes of type 2 diabetes. Gestational diabetes occurs in pregnant women who do not have a previous history of the disease.
Speaking with Science Daily, Athena Philis-Tsimikas, MD, Scripps Whittier representative said the “low-cost intervention” could help those manage the disease, particularly with those who struggle because of unemployment, transportation issues, and available health care. She went on to say that texting could be an “effective approach” in the fight against diabetes.
The study was organized between late 2012 through 2014 with nearly 130 participants. They were recruited around southern California in San Diego and Riverside counties. Most of the participants were Hispanics who were either uninsured; were middle-aged women, according to Science Daily. NBC San Diego reported that the “low-income Hispanic community [was] known to have a high-rate of diabetes.”
The participants watched a short video about diabetes before receiving a blood sugar testing kit. Visits to a physician and access to a diabetes educator and diabetes management classes were voluntary. Out of these participants, nearly half of them were randomly chosen to receive the text messages throughout the day through their phone or one provided by the scientists. The study covered the cost of the texts.
Throughout the study, the participants received over 350 messages about actions they could take regarding their diabetes. Several members found the messages to be helpful. Science Daily reported that the participants found the messages to be “nice, gentle reminders.” At the end of the trial, nearly 96 percent of the participants said the messages helped them “a lot.” This “low-cost” prevention proved to be a significant “benefit [to] many people who struggle every day to manage their diabetes and maintain their health,” said Dr. Tsimikas.
By Cheryl Werber