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
OBJECTIVE To investigate the effect of mobile phone applications (apps) on glycemic control (HbA1c) in the self-management of diabetes.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS Relevant studies that were published between 1 January 1996 and 1 June 2015 were searched from five databases: Medline, CINAHL, Cochrane Library, Web of Science, and Embase. Randomized controlled trials that evaluated diabetes apps were included. We conducted a systematic review with meta-analysis and GRADE (Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation) of the evidence.
RESULTS Participants from 14 studies (n = 1,360) were included and quality assessed. Although there may have been clinical diversity, all type 2 diabetes studies reported a reduction in HbA1c. The mean reduction in participants using an app compared with control was 0.49% (95% Cl 0.30, 0.68; I2 = 10%), with a moderate GRADE of evidence. Subgroup analyses indicated that younger patients were more likely to benefit from the use of diabetes apps, and the effect size was enhanced with health care professional feedback. There was inadequate data to describe the effectiveness of apps for type 1 diabetes.
CONCLUSIONS Apps may be an effective component to help control HbA1c and could be considered as an adjuvant intervention to the standard self-management for patients with type 2 diabetes. Given the reported clinical effect, access, and nominal cost of this technology, it is likely to be effective at the population level. The functionality and use of this technology need to be standardized, but policy and guidance are anticipated to improve diabetes self-management care.
B.C. and S.M. are joint senior authors.
B.C. is currently affiliated with the Department of Biostatistics and Health Informatics, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King's College London, London, U.K.
This article contains Supplementary Data online at http://care.diabetesjournals.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10.2337/dc16-0346/-/DC1.
This article is featured in a podcast available at http://www.diabetesjournals.org/content/diabetes-core-update-podcasts.
- Received February 17, 2016.
- Accepted July 3, 2016.
- © 2016 by the American Diabetes Association.