Text Messaging to Improve Disease Management in Patients With Painful Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy

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The purpose of the study was to determine the impact of educational text messages on diabetes self-management activities and outcomes in patients with painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy (pDPN).


Patients with pDPN identified from a large integrated health system who agreed to participate were randomized to 6 months of usual care (UC) or UC plus twice-daily diabetes self-management text messages (UC+TxtM). Outcomes included the Pain Numerical Rating Scale, Summary of Diabetes Self-Care Activities (SDSCA), questions on diabetes health beliefs, and glycated hemoglobin (A1C). Changes from baseline were evaluated at 6 months and compared between groups.


Demographic characteristics were balanced between groups (N = 62; 53% female, mean age = 63 years, 94% type 2 diabetes), as were baseline measures. After 6 months, pain decreased with UC+TxtM from 6.3 to 5.5 and with UC from 6.5 to 6.0, with no difference between groups. UC+TxtM but not UC was associated with significant improvements from baseline on all SDSCA subscales. On diabetes health beliefs, UC+TxtM patients reported significantly increased benefits and reduced barriers and susceptibility relative to UC at 6 months. A1C declined in both groups, but neither change was significant relative to baseline.


Patients with pDPN who receive twice-daily text messages regarding diabetes management reported reduced pain relative to baseline, although this change was not significant compared with usual care. In addition, text messaging was associated with increased self-management activities and improved diabetes health beliefs and total self-care. These results warrant further investigation.

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