Diabetes apps could improve blood glucose control—but further study is needed

Mobile applications aimed at improving diabetes outcomes could help users in controlling blood glucose, but evidence to support their efficiency is lacking, according to a study published May 8 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

mHealth applications can put care directly into patients’ hands—but without supporting evidence, their usefulness is unknown. In this study, researchers evaluated evidence on apps meant to improve diabetes to determine their clinical efficacy and usability for patients with type 1 and 2 diabetes.

The Ovid/Medline and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews were searched for relevant systematic reviews. Overall, researchers selected 11 apps—six apps for type 1 diabetes and five for type 2. The apps each included the ability to set reminders, track blood glucose and monitor medication use, physical activity and weight.

 

Eight of the apps, paired with clinician support, were able to improve at least one outcome. Blood glucose control was the most often cited improvement. However, quality of life, blood pressure and weight were not significantly affected. Researchers also noted was the variably in study quality. Of the eight apps, two were scored as “acceptable,” three were “marginal” and three were “not acceptable.”

“Limited evidence suggests that use of some commercially available apps, when combined with additional support from a healthcare provider or study staff, may improve some short-term diabetes-related outcomes,” concluded first author Stephanie Veazie and colleagues. “The impact of these apps on longer-term outcomes is unclear. More rigorous and longer-term studies of apps are needed.”