Diabetes app for young patients didn't improve blood glucose control

A mobile diabetes management application did not result in better blood glucose control, but it could be a useful tool in self-management. Findings were published June 26 in JMIR mHealth and uHealth.

Young patients with type 1 diabetes often struggle in the routine diabetes management entails. While mobile health apps could support self-management, evidence into their effectiveness is lacking. In this study, researchers evaluated the impact the mHealth app Young with Diabetes (YWD) had on self-management measured by blood glucose.

“[YWD] was developed in 2014 and 2015 in a mixed-methods design based on a participatory approach, with the aim of supporting young people and parents in type 1 diabetes self-management,” wrote first author Pernille Castensoe-Seidenfaden, MD, PhD, and colleagues. “Usability was tested in think-aloud tests and by a mail panel, and feasibility was tested for five weeks by young people and health care providers. YWD is based on the premise that providing a platform for young people to access information and support from peers, parents, and health care providers will improve their self-management skills.”

The study enrolled 49 parents and 151 young patients—75 in the control group and 76 received YWD. The apps included a chat room, contract with a healthcare provider, reminders, tips, information about the diabetes department and type 1 diabetes topics, carbohydrate counting and a parents’ section. After 12 months, results showed no difference in blood glucose control between the groups. Participants used the app mainly for chatting about alcohol and searching for information about sex. However, 80 percent of users would recommend the app to peers. Most parents and users believed the app helped in self-management.

“Young with Diabetes did not improve blood glucose control, but it may be a useful complement to self-management,” concluded Castensoe-Seidenfaden and colleagues. “Qualitative evaluation is needed to explore benefits and shortcomings of Young with Diabetes. Health care providers should address young peoples’ knowledge about sensitive topics, provide them with peer support, and be aware of parents’ need for information about how to support.”