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 Self-management of Type 2 diabetes via smartphone applications may have beneficial effects on blood sugar levels

Cui M, Wu X, Mao J, et al.  T2DM self-management via smartphone applications: A systematic review and meta-analysis  PLoS One. 2016;11(11).

Review question

  • Do health interventions delivered via smartphones improve diabetes care and self-management for adult patients with Type 2 diabetes in terms of glucose levels, blood pressure and blood fat levels?

Background

  • Diabetes is a common chronic disease that is affecting more people worldwide every year. With no cure for diabetes, using self-management to adopt a healthy lifestyle is an important step for prevention and treatment.
  • Currently, usual care involves recording health information changes on paper, or on technologies such as computers, cellphones and tablets.
  • This study aimed to assess whether or not the use of smartphone apps with or without feedback as a self-management tool is a promising means of improving dietary and physical activity habits in patients with Type 2 diabetes.

How the review was done

  • A detailed search of a number of electronic data bases for studies published from 2005 to 2015 was conducted. Studies that focused on mobile health applications in Type 2 diabetes patients aged 18 or older were included in the review.
  • A total of 2,956 studies were identified in searches, and 13 were included in the review after assessments for eligibility.
  • This review was funded by research grants from the Project of National Natural Science Foundation of China, and National Key Program of Clinical Science.

What the researchers found

  • This review found that smartphone-based self-management apps reduced blood sugar levels. However, there was no difference between apps with or without feedback.
  • Smartphone-based self-management apps were not found to affect blood pressure or weight levels.
  • This review found that mobile health interventions are moderately effective at promoting lifestyle changes such as daily physical activity and taking medications.

Conclusion

  • Overall, self-management with health interventions delivered via mobile phone apps have no significant effect on blood pressure or weight, but have a moderate beneficial effect on blood sugar levels. As such, mobile health interventions may help manage Type 2 diabetes, however, results should be used with caution as further research is needed to explore aspects of diabetes self-management that can be transferred to clinical practice.



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