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Mobile phone apps can help adults with Type 2 diabetes to control their glycemic levels

Hou C, Carter B, Hewitt J, et al.  Do mobile phone applications improve glycemic control (HbA1c) in the self-management of diabetes? A systematic review, meta-analysis, and GRADE of 14 randomized trials  Diabetes Care. 2016 Nov; 39(11):2089-2095.

Review question

  • How effective are mobile-based phone applications in supporting adults with Type 2 diabetes to manage their glycemic levels?


  • As the number of patients with diabetes continues to rise globally, there is an urgent need for effective interventions that can allow patients to effectively self-manage their diabetes.
  • Mobile phone apps are an example of an emerging technology that can conveniently allow patients to manage their glycemic levels. Existing diabetes apps are global, relatively cheap, and more interactive than other technologically based solutions.
  • This review was conducted in order to assess how effective these mobile phone apps are in supporting adults with Type 2 diabetes patients to control their glycemic levels.

How the review was done

  • A detailed search of five electronic databases for studies published from January 1996 to June 2015 was conducted. Studies were included if they were randomized controlled trials evaluating diabetes apps.
  • A total of 5,209 articles were identified in searches, and 14 studies were included in the review after assessments for eligibility.
  • The authors did not mention a source of funding for this review.  

What the researchers found

  • The review identified studies examining the effectiveness of the apps for adults with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. There was inconclusive evidence supporting the use of the apps for adults with Type 1 diabetes.
  • For adults with Type 2 diabetes, self-control apps were found to be very effective in supporting the management of glycemic levels.
  • A follow-up analysis showed that in adults with Type 2 diabetes the following factors did not affect the effectiveness of the apps: time to follow-up, average time participants had lived with diabetes, or the average age of participants.


  • Ultimately, the review found that apps to help track glycemic levels were effective in supporting adults with Type 2 diabetes to self-manage their conditions Ð although the same cannot be said for adults with Type 1 diabetes.


Related Topics


Randomized controlled trials
Studies where people are assigned to one of the treatments purely by chance.

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