Influenza (flu) can be dangerous for people with diabetes. Experts highly recommend getting an annual flu vaccine. For people with diabetes, flu vaccination is safe. However, flu vaccination rates fall under the 70% vaccination rate goal set by national guidelines for all people in the United States.

International digital health study increases flu vaccine rates

In a new study, researchers from Sansum Diabetes Research Institute together with colleagues from Europe, China, Canada and other parts of the United States tested a new digital approach to increase rates of flu vaccination in people with diabetes. This study included more than 10,000 people with self-reported diabetes. Over six months, researchers compared a group of people with diabetes who received monthly messages on their smartphones with a control group of people with diabetes who did not receive messages. The participants were mostly female, white, and in the middle age range with high levels of income and education. Each of the six monthly messages contained educational information and a call to action for the participant to complete. Examples of these calls to action included completing a quiz, committing to getting the vaccine, or using their zip code to find a vaccine clinic nearby.

Increased vaccine rate early in flu season

Vaccination rates increased in the group that received messages compared to the control group. Completion of one or more intervention messages was linked to an 8% increase in vaccination rate. The increase in vaccination rate seen in this study is much higher than that previously seen in other general digital interventions for increasing flu vaccination rates. Participants received $0.30 compensation for the whole six months of the study. Importantly, the increase in vaccines occurred early in the flu season.

This calls for more research to see if this approach can also increase flu vaccine rates in underserved communities with diabetes.


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