Online Program

Oral Health Buddy: A Novel Texting Program to Improve the Oral Health of Low-Income Groups

Monday, November 2, 2015

Harold W. Neighbors, PhD, Health Behavior and Health Education, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Gretchen Piatt, PhD, School of Medicine, Univ of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Samir Chatterjee, PhD, School of Information Systems & Technology, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA
Bonita Neighbors, DDS, Community Dental Center, School of Dentistry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
George Taylor, DMD, DrPH, Preventive & Restorative Dental Sciences, UCSF School of Dentistry, San Francisco, CA
Stephen Stefanac, DDS, School of Dentistry, Department of Oral Medicine and Periodontics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Jamie Abelson, MSW, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Darlene Jones, Department of Periodontics and Oral Medicine, School of Dentistry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Christopher Krenz, BA, School of Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Paul Simms, MPH, San Diego Black Health Associates, Inc., San Diego, CA
This study determined whether a mobile health intervention using text messages and social support/encouragement from an informal caregiver (the “buddy”) were effective in achieving improvements in oral health in 31 patients diagnosed with diabetes in an underserved community dental clinic in Southeast Michigan. Participants were: mean age: 58.4 years, 80.6% female, 45.2% African American, 65.5% at or below poverty level, A1c ≥ 7%: 58.1%. Participants chose one family member, friend, or relative as their “buddy” to provide support during the 4­month intervention. The texting algorithm was designed to encourage brushing and flossing; and to send text messages to the buddy when the patient was non-compliant with respect to proper oral hygiene. Significant improvements were observed in self­reported oral health as “good/very good” from baseline (25.8%) to 4 months (38.7%), p=0.05. Marked decreases in A1c were also observed at 4 months (­0.6%, p=0.03). African American participants experienced a 0.7% reduction in A1c while White participants improved by 0.3%. Additionally, African American participants achieved greater improvements in A1c than their White counterparts. No racial differences were observed in oral health improvement. Analyses of clinical oral health outcomes are ongoing. These data demonstrate that combining text messages with a buddy is effective in helping participants to achieve and maintain glycemic control and improve self­reported oral health. With the growing prevalence of diabetes and periodontitis, leveraging the high penetration of cell-phone ownership in low-income groups through text-messaging is a promising low­cost approach to patient engagement in high­risk, underserved communities.

Learning Areas:

Chronic disease management and prevention
Diversity and culture
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe the operation and impact of a low-cost text-messaging oral hygiene program

Keyword(s): Oral Health, Behavioral Research

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Principal Investigator on this project and have been PI on multiple federally funded grants focused on underserved ethnic minority opoulations.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

Back to: 3108.0: Poster #2