Young people welcome mobile health tools to manage their type 1 diabetes, study reports

Jack Woodfield
Tue, 07 Mar 2017
Young people welcome mobile health tools to manage their type 1 diabetes, study reports
A New Zealand study finds that the majority of young people with type 1 diabetes would want to receive support through text messaging.

Scientists found that 64 per cent of young people with type 1 diabetes with a mean age of 19 years welcomed the use of mobile health interventions for self-managing their condition.

Mobile health (mHealth) tools can be valuable for young people, according to researchers from National Institute of Health and the University of Auckland, who stressed that good self-care habits need to be reinforced to prevent complications developing in adulthood.

"This study provides valuable insight into the engagement of young adults with type 1 diabetes with currently available mHealth tools, as well as providing insight into how future mHealth interventions can be designed to meet their need," said the authors.

All the participants were aged between 16-24, with 96 per cent owning a smartphone and 33 per cent found to already use smartphone apps for treating and managing their diabetes.

The most common reason why young people were not using the apps was a lack of awareness that the apps were available.

Those who lacked confidence in their self-care were more likely to be interested in receiving text alerts, and cited tips on how to manage diabetes and motivations tools as the most useful applications.

While more than half the participants reported that they felt they managed their diabetes well, 64 per cent wanted to learn more about their diabetes using text messaging and apps.

"Those who were interested were asked how often they would want to receive messages, with 21 per cent wanting messages more than once per day, 17 per cent once per day, 15 per cent only once every few days, and 12 per cent once a week or less," the researchers added.

The researchers believe that with proper development, mHealth apps and text messaging could provide valuable support for youngsters. But they added a significant issue is that apps need to be designed for offline use and many require greater storage capacity for data.

The findings appear online in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.
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