Disparities in Text Messaging Interventions to Improve Diabetes Management in the United States

Amy A. Eyler, Francine C. Gachupin, Shelly L. Johnston, Julie M. Kapp, Diana C. Parra, Mihail Popescu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Substantial progress has been made in the development of evidence-based interventions to facilitate the management of type 2 diabetes. The increase in ownership of mobile phones has made short messaging services (SMS, or text messaging) a feasible way to enhance information delivery. The goals of this study were to 1) summarize characteristics of diabetes SMS interventions implemented in the United States and 2) identify the extent to which disadvantaged populations are represented in SMS-based diabetes management intervention studies. We conducted a literature search to identify published studies of type 2 diabetes self-management SMS interventions conducted with adults in the United States. Of the 792 articles retrieved, only 9 met inclusion criteria. We systematically extracted data on the theoretical basis, recruitment, incentives, inclusion/exclusion criteria, strategies toward ensuring a racially/ethnically or income-diverse sample, text message delivery, and study duration. Sixty-three percent of the participants across the nine studies were non-white. Only two studies reported participants’ education level, and four captured non–English-speaking status. Interventions varied in offering one-way, two-way, or a combination of messaging strategies. Five studies did not describe cultural adaptations or report results separately for different cultural groups. None of the studies provided cell phones, and not having texting capability was an exclusion criterion for six studies. There is a dearth of published research on type 2 diabetes management interventions using text messaging among racially/ethnically or income-diverse populations. Future interventions should be better tailored to these target populations and include the collection of complete sociodemographic data and cell phone/smartphone availability, thereby ensuring cultural appropriateness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34-41
Number of pages8
JournalDiabetes Spectrum
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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