Motivational text messages help manage diabetes

Motivational text messages could help people living with diabetes better manage their condition, say researchers behind a new study. They also add that this form of intervention could prove an effective solution to the growing healthcare burden of managing long-term health conditions.

Researchers have found that a series of simple motivational texts can improve blood sugar control in people with diabetes and coronary heart disease. This is not only an affordable and scalable solution, it is also one that researchers can be applied to nearly any population across the world.

For their study the researchers based in China chose people with diabetes and cardiovascular disease, as these two types of patients need to pay constant attention to their health conditions.

By including people with both diabetes and coronary heart disease, the scientists hoped that the findings would better apply to real life settings.

During the study period the participants all received their standard healthcare. The participants were split into two groups — one group received six auto-generated texts per week. The messages focused on a variety of factors, including controlling glucose and blood pressure levels, lifestyle advice, and the importance of adhering to medication rules. The other control group only received two texts per month, simply thanking them for taking part in the study.

After 6 months of receiving the texts, the research team found that blood sugar levels were notably lower in the motivational text group. The average HbA1c levels during the last 2–3 months of the study showed a decrease of 0.2 percent in the motivational text group and an increase of 0.1 percent in the control cohort.

Doctors advise that HbA1c levels should be under 7 percent in order to reduce diabetes-related complications. A higher number of participants (69.3%) reached this target in the motivational text group than the control group (52.6%).

Researchers said that further investigation is needed before any conclusions can be drawn, but they hoped that this nonpharmacological intervention could serve as a powerful tool to transform worldwide delivery of health services and improve health across diverse populations.