Texting Helps Manage Diabetes

Texts, phone reminders are good medicine in diabetes.

Distance education — such as text messages and phone calls – significantly increases diabetes patients’ ability to care for themselves, according to the findings of a recent study.

Researchers from Iran recruited 66 type-2 diabetes patients in order to assess the effect of education via telephone and short message service (text messages) on empowering the population. After the investigators led an orientation to explain the purpose of the study to the participants, half of the patients received an educational daily text message and instructive phone calls three days per week for a period of three months, alongside their usual care. During the phone calls, the patients were also allowed to ask questions which were answered and the text messages were sent in what the researchers described as an “informative and respectful manner after consulting with an endocrinologist, psychologist, nutritionist and public nursing health specialist.” The other half of the patients received usual care only.

The patients were on average 48 years of age and had been diagnosed with diabetes for a mean of 10.5 years. The study authors included additional demographics of the group, writing that the group was made up of two-thirds female patients, about two-thirds were unemployed, about two-thirds have a high school diploma or higher, while nearly all owned their house.

Lastly, the investigators said that half of the patients in the intervention group used pills for controlling diabetes, while three quarters of the control group did so. However, even after all of this, they reported that no significant difference was presented between the two groups in terms of statistical variables.

After the three-month intervention period, the researchers said that the empowerment of the text message and phone call group significantly improved compared to the control group. This significant effect was present in all three of the examined subscales of managing the psychosocial aspects of diabetes, dissatisfaction and readiness to change, setting and achieving diabetes goals, and general self empowerment scores.

The study authors wrote that empowering patients in health care can allow for the promotion of patients’ self care in order to maximize the individuals’ potential for wellness and personal health through education, researching information about the disease, and being an active participant in treatment decisions. Follow ups, they added, are an important and possible way to improve this in patients, and include home or clinical visits periodically.

“To manage a chronic disease like diabetes, empowering the patients about their care is highly important and it is considered the same as medication, exercises and diet control,” the study authors concluded. “Control and management of diabetes are not possible unless the patients know the nature and complications of the disease and how to control and take positive steps to deal with it. So, if diet, exercise and medication are considered as the three principle parts in diabetes management, the fourth one would be education and all are needed to improve self care and self empowerment in patients.”

The study, titled “Distance education and diabetes empowerment: A single-blind randomized control trial,” was published in the journal Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome: Clinical Research & Reviews.

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