SAN DIEGO – Scripps Whittier Diabetes Institute will use a $2.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the effects of using text messaging to improve Type 2 diabetes among high-risk Hispanic patients in San Diego County.
“We believe our work will identify innovative, cost-effective ways to improve diabetes care and help to reduce health disparities among this underserved population,” said Dr. Athena Philis-Tsimikas, corporate vice president for the Scripss Whittier Diabetes Institute, in a press release.
Up to 55% of U.S. Hispanics born in 2000 are expected to develop diabetes during their lifetime, according to the National Alliance for Hispanic Health.
The study, called Dulce Digital-Me, will recruit 414 participants from among Hispanic adults of low socioeconomic status with poorly controlled Type 2 diabetes. The patients will use wireless devices to track their blood sugar levels and medication adherence over a six-month period.
Half of the participants in the study will receive personalized text messages encouraging proper nutritional habits, emphasizing the benefits of physical activities, and reminding them to monitor blood sugar and take medications on a regular basis. They will also be asked to respond periodically to brief questions about their diet, exercise and stress levels via text message. The algorithm-driven text messages will be individualized based on the monitoring data and responses collected from each participant.
The other half of participants will receive standard messages modeled off the Institute’s original Dulce program, which demonstrated the effectiveness of using text messaging to improve blood sugar control in a high-risk Hispanic population with Type 2 diabetes two years ago.
In this new study, researchers will measure hemoglobin A1c levels, LDL cholesterol levels and systolic blood pressure to see if participants who received the personalized messages have better results than those who received standard messages. They will also look for differences in patient-doctor/nurse communication, medication adherence and cost effectiveness between the two groups.