A surprising health benefit of texting
A hundred years ago, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” was considered sound medical advice. But in today’s high-tech times, you may want to replace the word “apple” with “text.”
A new study by the Scripps Whittier Diabetes Institute found that their participants – low-income Hispanics with Type 2 diabetes – who received daily health-related text messages for six months had improvements in their blood sugar levels equaling those shown by some glucose-reducing medications.
Study participants were sent an average of 354 motivational and educational text messages over the course of the study. The messages would say things like:
- Tick, tock. Take your medicine at the same time every day!
- Use small plates! Portions will look larger and you may feel more satisfied after eating.
- Time to check your blood sugar. Please text back your results.
The results showed that the participants who received the texts reduced their blood glucose a full percentage point over the six-month period, while those who did not receive texts only saw a 0.1 percent reduction.
“As a low-cost intervention, we believe text messaging has great potential to improve the management of diabetes, especially among patients who struggle, due to employment, transportation and other barriers, to access health care services,” researcher Dr. Athena Philis-Tsimikas said in a press release.
The study also found that those participants who texted in their blood glucose levels more often experienced better results than those who reported in less often. Researchers speculated that those who reported more regularly were more engaged in the program, leading to better results.
“As with any chronic condition requiring ‘self-management’ skills, people with diabetes will have healthier outcomes when education is part of the treatment plan,” Avery says. “With knowledge comes empowerment to make better decisions for blood sugar management.”
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.