Photo via Pixabay
Photo via Pixabay

A five-year, $2.9 million federal grant will fund a study on managing diabetes among high-risk Hispanic patients in San Diego County by using communications technology, the Scripps Whittier Diabetes Institute announced Thursday.

The funds from the National Institutes of Health will be used to study a program called “Dulce Digital-Me” to see if text messaging can improve type 2 diabetes management.

Study participants will be recruited from among Hispanic adults of low socioeconomic status who have poorly controlled type 2 diabetes. They will be instructed to use wireless devices to track their blood-sugar levels and medication adherence during a six-month study period, according to Scripps Health.

Half of the 414 participants 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 also will 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 text message responses collected from each participant.

The other half of study participants will receive standard, one-size- fits-all messages modeled off the institute’s original Dulce Digital program, which demonstrated the effectiveness of using text messaging to improve blood sugar control in a high-risk Hispanic population with type 2 diabetes in 2012- 14.

In the new study, researchers will measure hemoglobin A1c levels, LDL cholesterol levels and systolic blood pressure to see if participants who received the personalized  messaging have better results than participants who received standard messaging.

Researchers also will look for differences in patient-doctor/nurse communication, medication adherence and cost effectiveness between the two groups.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 10 percent of American adults suffer from diabetes, and that could increase to one- third by 2050.

Up to 55 percent of U.S. Hispanics born in 2000 could develop diabetes during their lifetime, according to the National Alliance for Hispanic Health.

—City News Service