The effect of automated text messaging and goal setting on pedometer adherence and physical activity in patients with diabetes: A randomized controlled trial


INTRODUCTION: Activity-monitoring devices may increase activity, but their effectiveness in sedentary, diseased, and less-motivated populations is unknown. METHODS: Subjects with diabetes or pre-diabetes were given a Fitbit and randomized into three groups: Fitbit only, Fitbit with reminders, and Fitbit with both reminders and goal setting. Subjects in the reminders group were sent text-message reminders to wear their Fitbit. The goal-setting group was sent a daily text message asking for a step goal. All subjects had three in-person visits (baseline, 3 and 6 months). We modeled daily steps and goal setting using linear mixed-effects models.

RESULTS: 138 subjects participated with 48 in the Fitbit-only, 44 in the reminders, and 46 in the goal-setting groups. Daily steps decreased for all groups during the study. Average daily steps were 7123, 6906, and 6854 for the Fitbit-only, the goal-setting, and the reminders groups, respectively. The reminders group was 17.2 percentage points more likely to wear their Fitbit than the Fitbit-only group. Setting a goal was associated with a significant increase of 791 daily steps, but setting more goals did not lead to step increases.

CONCLUSION: In a population of patients with diabetes or pre-diabetes, individualized reminders to wear their Fitbit and elicit personal step goals did not lead to increases in daily steps, although daily steps were higher on days when goals were set. Our intervention improved engagement and data collection, important goals for activity surveillance. This study demonstrates that new, more-effective interventions for increasing activity in patients with pre-diabetes and diabetes are needed.

PLoS One
Jacob Simmering
Jacob Simmering
Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine

Health, data, and statistics.