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Health Services Research & Development

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2023 HSR&D/QUERI National Conference Abstract

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5012 — “It Made Me Feel Like I Have a Seat at the Table in VA Research”: A Veteran’s Experience Developing a Diabetes Texting Program

Lead/Presenter: Kathryn Peoples-Robinson
All Authors: Beck MJ (Malcom Randall Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center, Gainesville), Gardner J (Jesse Brown Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center, Chicago), Am L (Center for Healthcare Organization and Implementation Research, Bedford) Shell P (Malcom Randall Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center, Gainesville), Robinson SA (Center for Healthcare Organization and Implementation Research, Bedford), Gordon HS (Center of Innovation for Complex Chronic Healthcare, Chicago), Brown G (Jesse Brown Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center, Chicago), Vargas-Correa J (Jesse Brown Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center, Chicago), Orejuela M (Malcom Randall Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center, Gainesville), & Shimada SL (Center for Healthcare Organization and Implementation Research, Bedford)

Objectives:
The goal of the project was to help Veterans living with diabetes improve their diabetes care through technology. We developed a text messaging program using the VA Annie texting program that encourages vulnerable Veterans with diabetes to have more control over their health and manage their diabetes better.

Methods:
VA has started using Annie, a texting system for Veterans’ self-management support. Our group wanted to develop a customizable texting program using Annie to provide motivational and informational messages related to Veterans’ diabetic care.

Results:
My role on this project was to meet weekly with the research team to provide my expertise as a woman Veteran living with diabetes and other health conditions. I was one of the Veteran co-investigators and a member of the research team. Even though we don’t have a string of letters after our name, we felt like full members, that what we have to say is respected. We brought our own lived experiences to the table, but I also tried to represent what I knew about other Veterans’ experiences from other formal and informal Veterans’ groups. This was true regardless of whether we were writing or editing text messages or helping the team think through the input we got from Veteran participants in the participatory design process.

Implications:
Based on this partnership we think we were able to help create more meaningful and authentic messages and improve the quality of the texting program. It made me feel like I have a seat at the table in VA research, not only improving my own care but improving care for other Veterans. Differences between my and other Veterans’ experiences helped the team think more broadly and find a solution likely to help a broad range of Veterans.

Impacts:
The VA culture has changed over time. There has been a recognition that patients have a meaningful role in their health and healthcare team. How can you help someone if you don’t know what they want and need? I think including the perspectives of Veterans from different groups is important to develop a solution that will help improve the overall quality of health for the Veterans. I look forward to keep working with the team. In the future it would be even better if Annie could inform Veterans about VA resources available to them that many aren’t aware of, like free shoes for patients with diabetes.