People beat tech in New Zealand wellness studies

The content, approach and frequency of care in support programs are more important than who provides it. We need more coaches.

Two studies from the same New Zealand university show technology failing but human kindness succeeding in maintaining wellness.

The school is the University of Otago in Dunedin, now celebrating its 140th anniversary.

The failure, published in Diabetes Care, involved 78 kids with Type 1 diabetes. They were given pedometers which measured the steps they took and nagged them with text messages to do more.

The kids with the electronic nags actually wound up walking less than those without them, wrote Kirsty Newton, a diabetes nurse specialist. Differences on measures like blood sugar with a control group were not statistically significant.

The success, reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, involved 200 women who had just lost weight, half of whom were supervised intently by nurses. On alternate weeks they got either a phone call or a brief 10-minute visit and weigh-in.

In a commentary accompanying the study, Dr. Robert Ross of Queens University in Kingston, Ontario wrote that exercise specialists and dieticians could easily fill in for the nurses, who are in short supply there, because "the content, approach and frequency of care provided in support programs may be more important than who provides it."

The content, approach and frequency of care in support programs are more important than who provides it. We need more coaches.

Oh, and care does not have to be intense in order to work. It just needs to be regular, and human.

I know some of you will say this just proves the obvious. But until the obvious is proven it's not obvious.