SMS texting for uncontrolled diabetes among persons experiencing homelessness: Study protocol for a randomized trial

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Contemporary clinical trials






Diabetes mellitus; Health disparities; Homeless; RCT; SMS; mHealth


BACKGROUND: Diabetes mellitus (DM) is common among persons experiencing homelessness (PEH), often inadequately managed, and carries significant costs. mHealth strategies including short messaging service (SMS) texting have been feasible and acceptable, and improved control of chronic diseases including DM. SMS strategies for DM have not been tested among PEH despite the accessibility of mobile phones. We propose an SMS strategy could offer better communication, education, and information management; improve outreach; facilitate care coordination; explore barriers to care; and support behavior changes. METHODS AND ANALYSIS: This mixed-methods (RCT and qualitative) study will be implemented in shelter-clinics in New York City in collaboration with community organizations, allowing for sustainability and scalability. Aim 1 will evaluate the efficacy of a 6-month SMS program for DM management versus an attention control on changes in HbA1c and adherence to DM self-care activities, medications, and appointments at 9 months in adult PEH with uncontrolled DM (n = 100). Outcomes will be measured at 0, 3, 6, &9 months. AIM 2 will assess patients' and providers' attitudes, acceptability, and experience of the program through semi-structured interviews with PEH (n = 20) and providers (n = 10). DISCUSSION: DM is not well-addressed among PEH. SMS strategies for DM have never been tested in PEH despite evidence of their effectiveness and access to mobile phones among PEH. Results from this study will provide important empirical data to inform evidence-based strategies to avert personal suffering and significant costs. It will have broader policy implications in control of DM and other chronic diseases.


Global Health