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Evidence Summary

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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?

Background

  • 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.

Conclusion

  • 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.

 




Glossary

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

Related Web Resources

  • Type 2 diabetes: Screening for adults

    Health Link B.C.
    People at average risk for type 2 diabetes should be tested every 3 years after age 40. You may need to be tested more frequently if you are at higher risk. Find out your risk with the Canadian Diabetes Risk Assessment Questionnaire (link in this resource).
  • High blood sugar can increase cognitive decline

    Berkeley Wellness
    New research shows that if you have high blood sugar, you might be more at risk for cognitive decline as you age. Whether or not you have diabetes, it is important to keep your blood sugar under control.
  • Prediabetes: Which Treatment Should I Use to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes?

    OHRI
    This patient decision aid helps People with prediabetes considering treatment to help prevent type 2 diabetes decide on whether to make a major lifestyle change or take the medicine metformin by comparing the benefits, risks, and side effects of both options.
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