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J Med Internet Res. 2016 Nov 18;18(11):e307.

Text to Move: A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Text-Messaging Program to Improve Physical Activity Behaviors in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.

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Partners Connected Health, Boston, MA, United States.
Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, United States.
Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, United States.
University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, United States.
Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, United States.



Text messages are increasingly being used because of the low cost and the ubiquitous nature of mobile phones to engage patients in self-care behaviors. Self-care is particularly important in achieving treatment outcomes in type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM).


This study examined the effect of personalized text messages on physical activity, as measured by a pedometer, and clinical outcomes in a diverse population of patients with T2DM.


Text to Move (TTM) incorporates physical activity monitoring and coaching to provide automated and personalized text messages to help patients with T2DM achieve their physical activity goals. A total of 126 English- or Spanish-speaking patients with glycated hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) >7 were enrolled in-person to participate in the study for 6 months and were randomized into either the intervention arm that received the full complement of the intervention or a control arm that received only pedometers. The primary outcome was change in physical activity. We also assessed the effect of the intervention on HbA1c, weight, and participant engagement.


All participants (intervention: n=64; control: n=62) were included in the analyses. The intervention group had significantly higher monthly step counts in the third (risk ratio [RR] 4.89, 95% CI 1.20 to 19.92, P=.03) and fourth (RR 6.88, 95% CI 1.21 to 39.00, P=.03) months of the study compared to the control group. However, over the 6-month follow-up period, monthly step counts did not differ statistically by group (intervention group: 9092 steps; control group: 3722 steps; RR 2.44, 95% CI 0.68 to 8.74, P=.17). HbA1c decreased by 0.07% (95% CI -0.47 to 0.34, P=.75) in the TTM group compared to the control group. Within groups, HbA1c decreased significantly from baseline in the TTM group by -0.43% (95% CI -0.75 to -0.12, P=.01), but nonsignificantly in the control group by -0.21% (95% CI -0.49 to 0.06, P=.13). Similar changes were observed for other secondary outcomes.


Personalized text messaging can be used to improve outcomes in patients with T2DM by employing optimal patient engagement measures.


engagement; mobile phones; pedometers; physical activity; text messaging; type 2 diabetes

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