Robocalls improve diabetes eye screening among low-income minorities

March 19, 2018, The Endocrine Society

Automated reminder calls may be an effective tool to improve screening for diabetic eye disease among low-income minority patients, especially African Americans, a new study finds. The study results will be presented Monday at ENDO 2018, the Endocrine Society's 100th annual meeting in Chicago, Ill.

In adults with diabetes, vision loss due to the disease is common but is often preventable through regular eye exams that include visualization of the retina at the back of the eye.

"Retinal can detect signs of such as diabetic retinopathy before vision loss occurs and progresses to blindness," said the study's senior investigator, Eli Ipp, M.D., professor and head, Section of Diabetes and Metabolism, Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute (LA BioMed) at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance, Calif. "Yet screening rates for diabetic retinopathy are low in low-income, minority patients."

In a 2016 survey of low-income patients, Ipp and others at LA BioMed found that African Americans reported past-year retinal screenings half as often as Latinos did, despite their physicians telling them screening was important.

Trying to improve diabetic retinopathy screening rates among poor minorities in this new study, Ipp and his research team tested the effect of telephone reminders given to 288 patients with diabetes: 200 Latinos and 88 African Americans. The patients were from a safety net clinic for uninsured and Medicaid (Medi-Cal) patients, which is part of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services. The phone reminder encouraged patients to attend a previously scheduled appointment to get retinal photos taken as part of a diabetes retinal screening program.

Of the patients, 176 received a prerecorded automated phone call, or , reminder, in both English and Spanish, and the other 112 patients did not. Those who did not get a robocall received usual care, consisting of a personal call from a clinic staff member, Ipp said. The researchers then tracked the "show rate," the percentage of patients who showed up at the clinic for screening.

Usual care resulted in a show rate of 46.3 percent, whereas 59.9 percent of patients who received robocalls came for retinal screening, a statistically significant difference, Ipp said. When the researchers looked at the show rate by ethnicity/racial group, they also found a difference. Among African Americans, the show rate with usual care was reportedly only 23.6 percent, compared with 51.6 percent—more than double—after a robocall. Among Latinos, a robocall increased the show rate more modestly, according to Ipp, from 55.8 percent with usual care to 61 percent.

"Robocalls, a relatively low-cost approach to reminder calls, may not only improve screening rates in low-income minority with diabetes but also appears to correct the disparity in retinal screening observed among African Americans in this community," Ipp said.

He said it is unclear why robocalls improved the rate better than usual care. The automated technique also has the advantage of being less expensive than staff time for calls.

The study received funding from the California Community Foundation in Los Angeles, Calif., and the Genentech Foundation in South San Francisco, Calif.

Explore further: Study seeks to improve diabetic eye health

Related Stories

Study seeks to improve diabetic eye health

October 11, 2016
While diabetes is the most common cause of blindness in the working-age population in the U.S., only about 55% of lower income adults living with the disease undergo the retinal screening needed to detect and help prevent ...

Barriers for diabetic retinopathy screening vary

October 20, 2016
(HealthDay)—Patients and health care providers have markedly divergent perceptions of barriers to diabetic retinopathy screening, according to a study published in the Oct. 6 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control ...

Mapping IDs geographic access barriers for diabetic retinopathy

May 25, 2017
(HealthDay)—Geographic information systems mapping can visualize geographic access barriers to eye care among patients with diabetes, while telescreening can increase the rate of diabetes retinopathy evaluation, according ...

Interventions increase attendance for diabetic retinopathy screening, says study

January 31, 2018
Targeted interventions can significantly improve screening for diabetic retinopathy, a complication of diabetes and the leading cause of vision loss amongst working-age adults in the Western word, according to a new Cochrane ...

New screening tool can identify diabetic retinopathy

October 16, 2017
(HealthDay)—A new screening tool can adequately detect risk of diabetic retinopathy in adults with diabetes in low-income communities in Mexico, according to a study published in the October issue of Preventing Chronic ...

Implementing large-scale teleretinal diabetic retinopathy screening program

March 27, 2017
Can a large-scale, primary care-based teleretinal diabetic retinopathy screening (TDRS) program reduce wait times for screening and improve the timeliness of care in the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, the ...

Recommended for you

Eating leafy greens could help prevent macular degeneration

October 19, 2018
A new study has shown that eating vegetable nitrates, found mainly in green leafy vegetables and beetroot, could help reduce your risk of developing early-stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Research reveals da Vinci's genius may have been partly due to eye condition

October 19, 2018
Leonardo da Vinci may have had an eye condition that gave him an unusual ability to recreate three-dimensional shapes in his sculptures and paintings, according to new research.

Widespread errors in 'proofreading' cause inherited blindness

October 12, 2018
Mistakes in "proofreading" the genetic code of retinal cells is the cause of a form of inherited blindness, retinitis pigmentosa (RP) caused by mutations in splicing factors.

Gene therapy breakthrough in treating rare form of blindness

October 9, 2018
Positive results of the world's first gene therapy trial for a genetic cause of blindness known as choroideremia have been reported in Nature Medicine.

Gene changes driving myopia reveal new focus for drug development

October 9, 2018
Myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness) develop through different molecular pathways, according to a new study publishing October 9 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology by Andrei Tkatchenko of Columbia ...

Dynamin-binding protein linked to congenital cataracts

October 4, 2018
Cataracts, a condition in which the eyes' natural lenses get clouded, are the most common cause of vision loss in older people and can be corrected by routine surgery. But congenital cataracts, which occur in infants and ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.