Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Texting to Promote Weight Loss and in Population Health Management

Anyone who regularly attends a house of worship is certainly aware of how preachers make a point of regularly visiting parishioners while they're in a hospital. Since the Disease Management Care Blog's recent hospitalization involved an inconvenient distance (hour and a half drive) and time (6:30 AM), the DMCB pastor adapted by texting a prayer message. The DMCB took some comfort in what its colleagues euphemistically refer to as "faith healing."

Which is one reason why the DMCB paid attention to this interesting peer-reviewed abstract. 170 obese persons were randomly assigned to either monthly emails or daily "personally relevant and interactive" text messages. There was no difference in weight loss at 6 and 12 months of follow-up, but persons who were "adherent" to the text messages had statistically significant greater weight loss and greater activity levels.  Satisfaction levels were also high in the text message group.

And then there's this other study that randomly assigned obese college students to text messaging plus Facebook, Facebook alone and a "waiting list" control group.  In the limited follow-up of 8 weeks, the text messaging group lost a significantly greater amount of weight (2.4 kg.) vs. the other two groups.

Is texting an option for weight loss in particular and for population health management (PHM) in general?  These two studies would indicate the answer for both is "perhaps."  A better answer may be that texting plus other PHM interventions is better and that texting for persons who prefer it is best. 

The DMCB's Fat Lady might also approve of texting. If it's good enough for the prayerful among us, who can argue against it?

Image from Wikipedia

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