Weight Loss Through Text Messaging Capstone Project

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Weight Loss Through Text Messaging

Decreasing Obesity Through Text Messaging

The focus of this professional paper is one of health and wellness, with emphasis on obesity control. Obesity is the dominant, unmet global health issue, with Western countries topping the list (WHO Technical Report Series, 2000). The reasons for the surge in obesity in the United States cannot be easily ascertained, but relate to multiple factors. Environmental and behavioral issues seem to cause the majority of obesity cases, including family dysfunction, a stressful life, increased time in sedentary activities, and low overall energy expenditures (Epstein, 2006). Researchers have also speculated that the increased energy density of modern foods, as well as the lower physical demands of contemporary society and the workplace have combined to increase the incidence of excessive weight (Anderson, 2003). At any rate, no single cause is responsible for obesity, as it is clearly a multifaceted issue.

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A large component of resultant obesity is poor nutrition. Poor nutrition is the second largest cause of death annually in the United States, resulting in approximately 400,000 deaths per year, following only tobacco (Dansicker, 2004). Many organizations combating obesity and malnutrition in our society, including the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Dietetic Association, have targeted the fast food industry as a major contributor to the obesity epidemic. They have linked the fast food industry to most major health problems, including overweight, diabetes, coronary heart disease, hypertension, and hypercholesterolemia. Still, Americans flock to these restaurants, eating portion sizes that are too large, too fatty, and too sugary to maintain a healthy body or a healthy weight.

Statement of the Problem

TOPIC: Capstone Project on Weight Loss Through Text Messaging Assignment

Nutrition and diet information is very widespread in our society; the overload of facts and figures may actually lead to confusion among the population. When information is promulgated by so many sources, people may not know what, how much, or even how often they should eat. Translating the information into strategies and policies that can help Americans make smarter food choices continues to challenge the health-care community (CDC.gov, 2012). While it is safe to say that confusion may exist, mass-marketing works to fill the gap and promote the products that seldom meet the guidelines of what constitutes a healthy diet.

Research Question

This begs the question: given that literature has shown the ability to alter behavior in various populations using mHealth technology, could patients of a suburban family practice office utilize the same mobile technology ( in the form of text messaging) to improve eating habits and lose weight?

Statement of the Purpose

As primary health care providers, advanced practice nurses are tasked on a daily basis to impress upon their patients the importance of healthful living. The very essence of the role is one that is characterized by the deliberate, purposeful, and integrated use of expanded nursing knowledge, research, and clinical practice expertise, grounded in the values of holistic, patient-centered care (Donnelly, 2006). The health community is failing in efforts to motivate patients to change behaviors and integrate healthy habits of diet and exercise into their daily lives. The conventional discussions, handouts, and admonishments are simply not effective to motivate patients to decrease their intake of fats, sugars, and starches, and increase fruit and vegetable consumption. Conversation alone is not enough to encourage patients to join a gym, sign up for exercise classes, or simply get out and walk. Given that obesity is linked to hypertension, adverse lipid concentrations, type 2 diabetes, various cancers, and innumerable additional maladies (Ogden, 2012), it follows that, as a group, advanced practice nurses should concentrate on developing novel approaches to combat obesity.

The purpose of this research is to determine, based on current studies, if patients who network with each other using mobile technology while supervised by a health care provider on a daily basis can lose more weight and be more physically active than those who are not part of the network.

The purpose of this research is to determine if patients who receive text messages from a health care provider on a daily basis can lose more weight than those who do not receive text messages.

Review of the Literature

Mobile health (mHealth) is defined as the use of mobile electronic devices, such as cell phones, PDAs, tablets, and laptops to support healthcare (Free, Phillips, & Felix, 2010). While medical professionals have long used mHealth in their daily practice routines, researchers have concluded that mHealth is also an excellent way to produce long lasting behavioral changes not only among health care providers, but also among their patients. By using software applications, known as "apps," users can download programs for symptom monitoring, treatment tracking progress, skills training, and two-way communication with providers (Introducing the "App," 2010). Behavioral health lends itself well to mobile technology, and recent examples include assessment of alcohol and substance abuse (Bernhardt, 2009), treatment of tobacco use (Obermayer, 2004), and support of patients with traumatic brain injury (DePompei, 2008).

Additionally, the National Center for Telehealth and Technology is currently conducting studies regarding usability for the military. This research is relevant to demonstrate not only the capability of the devices, but whether members of the military and providers will utilize them, especially in isolated areas, while on deployment, or overseas (Luxton, 2011).

Project Masiluleke

Project Masiluleke (Project M) is an example of how cell phone technology and text messaging are being employed in an attempt to quell the AIDS epidemic in South Africa. Project M. is based on joint efforts of mobile operator MRN, handset manufacturer Nokia, and the National Geographic Society. It is an ongoing large scale project designed to increase HIV / AIDS awareness and encourage and monitor treatment protocols. The partners originally utilized text messaging as a means to encourage men to be tested for HIV. Eventually the model developed to address HIV at every stage in its lifecycle from awareness to testing and follow-up (Project Masiluleke, 2011).

Making progress against AIDs has been particularly challenging in South Africa. The high infection rates had overwhelmed the medical system, regarding both medical facilities and personnel. The government attitude toward the diagnosis and treatment of HIV has remained hostile and has complicated all efforts to address the disease. Understandably, this made many individuals reluctant to submit to testing, given the stigma surrounding HIV / AIDS. Lack of privacy at clinics frequented by neighbors and staffed by relatives fails to promote trust, and does not encourage testing. Consequently, those who are infected may never know their status until very late in the disease process when it is too late to administer any type of treatment. Additionally, traditional healers frequented by those in the community supported a different treatment model and perpetuated confusion and incongruence.

Project M. centers on utilizing mobile technologies to increase access to information and services, creating a set of services to integrate with the existing health care system, and adopting a model from the community perspective, rather than from the perspective of the existing health care system. With this model in place, the goal was to harness mobile phones to deliver messages designed to raise awareness and connect users to existing information. When this was initiated, no one knew if a mass mailing of text messages on mobile telephones would reach the appropriate people, nor did they know if the messages would raise awareness to the point that the messages would affect behavior. Today, the project is reaching more than 350 million short message service (SMS) per year. The campaign resulted in an impressive 300% increase in calls to the helpline, from 1000 calls a day to 3000-4000 calls a day. Since the project launch, over 685 million PCM messages were sent to the helpline. Upon receiving the PCM message, staff at the helpline, who are HIV patients themselves, offer counseling and direct callers to HIV and TB testing centers. (Pop!Tech, 2010).

Text Messaging for Diabetes Management

An intriguing application of cell phone messaging was utilized by Sam Sandos Westside Family Health Center, one of eight federally qualified community health centers in the Denver Health healthcare system in Denver, Colorado. The system serves patients of whom 41% are uninsured, and 56% who are receiving Medicaid or Medicare. This quasi-experimental pilot was undertaken to assist patients manage their chronic diabetes. This article focuses on the results of a pilot study evaluating mobile health information technology (HIT) used to support patients in managing their diabetes between clinic visits. Cell phone text messaging was used to prompt patients to do blood sugar measurements, and remind patients of upcoming appointments. In that, the patients were encouraged to be more engaged in their care and more responsible for their own health.

A software platform, the Patient Relationship Manager (PRM), was developed as collaboration between Denver Health, EMC Consulting, and Microsoft Corporation. PRM was designed to send text messages to patients and process messages received from patients and rout them appropriately, if they required further action.

Forty-seven participants in the study received text messages over a 3-month… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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