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Aikens JE, Trivedi R, Aron DC, Piette JD. Integrating support persons into diabetes telemonitoring to improve self-management and medication adherence. Journal of general internal medicine. 2015 Mar 1; 30(3):319-26.
OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to investigate the potential benefits for medication adherence of integrating a patient-selected support person into an automated diabetes telemonitoring and self-management program, and to determine whether these benefits vary by patients' baseline level of psychological distress. STUDY DESIGN: The study was a quasi-experimental patient preference trial. METHODS: The study included patients with type 2 diabetes who participated in three to six months of weekly automated telemonitoring via interactive voice response (IVR) calls, with the option of designating a supportive relative or friend to receive automated updates on the patient's health and self-management, along with guidance regarding potential patient assistance. We measured long-term medication adherence using the four-point Morisky Medication Adherence Scale (MMAS-4, possible range 0-4), weekly adherence with an IVR item, and psychological distress at baseline with the Mental Composite Summary (MCS) of the SF-12. RESULTS: Of 98 initially nonadherent patients, 42% opted to involve a support person. Participants with a support person demonstrated significantly greater improvement in long-term adherence than those who participated alone (linear regression slopes: -1.17 vs. -0.57, respectively, p = 0.001). Among distressed patients in particular, the odds of weekly nonadherence tended to decrease 25% per week for those with a support person (p = 0.030), yet remained high for those who participated alone (p = 0.820). CONCLUSIONS: Despite their multiple challenges in illness self-management, patients with diabetes who are both nonadherent and psychologically distressed may benefit by the incorporation of a support person when they receive assistance via automated telemonitoring.