Sending supportive text messages to people with diabetes to offer advice about managing the condition led to improved blood glucose control, according to a Chinese study.

The results showed an average reduction in HbA1c of 2 mmol/mol (0.2%) in those who received the supportive messages. The group that did not receive the supportive messages experienced an average rise in HbA1c of 1 moll/mol (0.1%) on average.

These were the findings at six-months in the CHAT-DM (Cardiovascular Health and Texting-Diabetes Mellitus) randomised trial, which examined the impact of the messages on 502 people from 34 clinics across China.

The participants were split into two groups, with both receiving routine care but one group receiving six positive messages a week on subjects including blood glucose monitoring, physical activity, dietary advice and emotional support. Participants in the other group received two messages each month simply saying thank you for taking part in the research.

The results revealed that more people achieved their HbA1c target in the intervention group (69.3%), compared to the control group (52.6%). Fasting blood glucose decreased by 6 mmol/mol (0.5%) on average in the intervention group and increased by 1 mmol/mol in the control group.

Researcher Dr Xiqian Huo, who is based at Beijing’s Fuwai Hospital, said: “Lifestyle advice such as strict dietary control may have contributed to glycemic improvements, together with reminders to monitor blood glucose regularly. The messages were designed to provide information and motivation, and help patients set goals and manage stress.”

Dr Huo added: “Capitalising on the exponential growth in mobile phone usage over the past decade, a simple text-messaging programme could increase the reach of diabetes self-management support. It may provide a means to better address the burgeoning healthcare demand-capacity imbalance.”

The results of the study were shared on Saturday, August 31, at the annual meeting of the European Society of Cardiology and were also published by the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

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