Text Messaging a Missed Opportunity for Diabetes Compliance Among Young Patients

Mobile health (mHealth) technologies—SMS text messages, specifically—are an under-used resource for helping young diabetes patients stay compliant with their diet and lifestyle modification, according to a study of patients between ages 16 and 24.

A New Zealand-based study reported that 96 percent of young diabetics own a smartphone but only 33 percent of those surveyed say they use their phones for diabetes self-management. A majority weren’t even aware that mHealth tools for diabetes existed. However, once they found out about such programs, 64 percent said they would prefer text messaging as a means of mHealth diabetes support.

“A downside of many of the currently available apps is the need for the user to have ongoing Internet or data to access many of the apps’ functionalities,” wrote the authors in the Journal of Internet Medicine Research. “Apps designed to be used offline, therefore avoiding the need for ongoing data or Internet access, can require greater storage capacity on the phone to download the app and this can be a barrier for those with lower-level devices that typically have smaller storage capacity.”

Survey respondents were more varied when it came to how often they wanted to receive text reminders to do things like test their blood glucose levels.

According to the study, 21 percent of the 74 respondents wanted messages more than once per day, 17 percent once per day, 15 percent only once every few days, and 12 percent once a week or less.

“Because of the demanding and continuous nature of diabetes self-management, tools to support this group need to take data access into consideration,” investigators wrote.

Click here to read the study in full.

Mary Butler is the associate editor at The Journal of AHIMA.

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