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St. Joseph's Endocrinologists are active in researching better ways to educate and empower patients to care for their diabetes.

Traditional group or one-on-one patient education sessions are costly and time intensive interventions. Patients often do not attend multi-session educational programs or drop out before finishing if they do agree to attend. This can happen for multiple reasons, such as changing work schedules, handling multiple jobs, lack of transportation, burdensome parenting and caregiving responsibilities, or simply feeling too ill to commit to an educational program over several weeks. Thus, educating patients using group visits and regular classes becomes difficult.

On the other hand, a text messaging system using the patient’s own cell phone is an easy-to-use, affordable method for keeping healthy lifestyle practices and behaviors on patients’ minds on a daily basis.

A current study is identifying the attitudinal, behavioral and medical outcomes from a low-cost text messaging educational intervention among patients with uncontrolled diabetes. This study will determine if daily text messaging can significantly change lifestyle practices and improve clinical outcomes in patients with uncontrolled diabetes mellitus.

Study participants with cell phone and texting capabilities receive a text message daily asking for information on health practices. They respond with a numerical answer. An immediate return text is sent, based on their answer. The message may prompt an appropriate intervention or provide an educational message to reinforce good behaviors or suggest better choices.

Data are collected from patients three times over 12 months. No direct medical intervention is provided in the study. Preliminary HgA1c measures have shown a decrease in HgA1c levels.