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Text Messages and Financial Incentives to Increase Physical Activity in Adolescents With Prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes: Web-Based Group Interviews to Inform Intervention Design.

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2022 Apr 06

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<p><strong>BACKGROUND: </strong>Physical activity is a major component of treatment for adolescents with obesity and prediabetes or type 2 diabetes; however, sedentary behavior remains pervasive. An SMS text message-based intervention paired with financial incentives may be an effective way to promote physical activity in this population.</p>

<p><strong>OBJECTIVE: </strong>This study aims to obtain end-user feedback on SMS text message content and assess the acceptability of a planned SMS text messaging intervention with financial incentives to motivate youth with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes to increase physical activity.</p>

<p><strong>METHODS: </strong>Adolescents with overweight or obesity and prediabetes or type 2 diabetes who attended a large academic pediatric endocrinology clinic were recruited to participate in group interviews (2-4/group) via videoconferencing. Participants were asked to share their thoughts on the use of SMS text messages and financial incentives to remind and motivate them to be more physically active. They rated and provided feedback on specific messages to be used in clinical trials. Participants were also asked about their personal experience with rewards to motivate behavior change and their anticipated reactions to rewards provided for goal attainment (gain-framing) versus those provided and then taken away if a goal was not met (loss-framing). The interviews were conducted by 2 trained interviewers and a note-taker. Content analysis was used to explore themes.</p>

<p><strong>RESULTS: </strong>Group interviews were completed with 20 participants (11/20, 55% women; 15/20, 75% with type 2 diabetes; 5/20, 25% with prediabetes) with a mean age of 15 (SD 1; range 12-18) years and a mean BMI of 41 (SD 5) kg/m (all &gt;95th percentile for age and sex). Most participants were non-Hispanic Black (14/20, 70%) and 10% (2/20) were Hispanics. Participants frequently cited near-continuous smartphone use and agreed that SMS text messages would serve as good reminders to be physically active, but the consensus about the need for short messages was strong. Favorable content included references to what they were likely to be doing when messages were sent (eg, homework or watching television) and messages that were upbeat or informative. Specific physical activity suggestions were rated favorably. Attitudes toward financial incentives varied, with differing opinions about whether loss-framed incentives would be motivating or discouraging. Many participants highlighted the role of intrinsic, rather than extrinsic, motivation in achieving and sustaining behavior change.</p>

<p><strong>CONCLUSIONS: </strong>The engagement of adolescents with obesity and diabetes or prediabetes allowed for the refinement of SMS text messages for our planned intervention, with an emphasis on short, upbeat, relatable, and informative messages. Although an SMS text messaging intervention using financial incentives to motivate youth with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes to be more physically active is theoretically acceptable, the impact on actual activity levels in this population requires prospective evaluation in a clinical trial.</p>



Alternate Title

JMIR Diabetes


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