Introduction: Using diabetes as a prototype, we examined whether automated telephone disease management (ATDM) calls can improve chronically ill patients' access to self-care and dietary information.
Methods: Two-hundred-twenty-six English-speaking patients and 30 Spanish-speaking patients who were recruited from outpatient clinics received bi-weekly ATDM calls for 1 year, in which they were given the opportunity to access patient education messages. We compared the proportion of English-speaking and Spanish-speaking patients who selected brief self-care tips and interactive dietary education modules. Within each language group, we examined trends in patients' likelihood of selecting the messages over time.
Results: On average, Spanish-speaking patients selected self-care tips during 64% of their ATDM calls compared to 36% for English speakers (p < 0.0001). Spanish speakers also selected dietary education modules more often (52% versus 28%, p < 0.0001). Patients were less likely to select each type of message over the course of their participation in the study. However, after 12 months, most Spanish speakers and roughly one fourth of English speakers continued to select each message type. As a result, participants in both language groups received a substantial amount of patient education.
Conclusions: Patients with diabetes are receptive to self-care and dietary education via ATDM. Spanish speakers especially are willing to use ATDM calls to access patient education.