Study of diabetes app faces challenges


In a paper recently published in JMIR Formative research, researchers presents results from a feasibility study using a type 2 diabetes app, called ‘Sukaribit’. The study shows that both the methodology and the intervention need improvements.

A person holding a smartphone
Photo: Mikael Wallerstedt

Type 2 diabetes smartphone app
Controlling blood glucose levels among people with type 2 diabetes is crucial to managing diabetes effectively, reducing the risk of both microvascular and macrovascular complications. Despite the prevalence of technical solutions, such as smartphone apps to support diabetes self-management, their adoption remains relatively low. The Sukaribit app aims to bridge this gap.

Testing the Sukaribit app
The Sukaribit smartphone app stores and displays patient-generated blood glucose data, facilitates 2-way communication between patients and healthcare providers, offers personalized feedback, and provides tailored education. For instance, individuals with diabetes input their blood glucose levels or activities and receives customized feedback from a clinician through the app's communication feature.

59 participants were recruited to this feasibility study. 28 adults used Sukaribit for two months, reporting blood glucose and medications, and received feedback from a physician. A control group of 31 received standard care. Both groups underwent pre and post-measurements for glycemic control, diabetes distress, physical activity, and self-care.

Challenges were identified
Of five progression criteria, only two were at least partially met. Recruitment exceeded expectations, but challenges arose in measuring blood glucose levels using home testing kits. Participants were less active than anticipated and the effect sizes were small. Notably, the intervention group did more daily blood glucose tests than the control group at follow-up.

In summary, recruitment adjustments could facilitate a larger study, but issues with measurement of blood glucose levels and app utilization call for improvements. The study underlines the complexities of implementing technological interventions in diabetes care. It also shows that adjustments are needed before a larger randomized controlled trial can be conducted.

Read the paper ‘The Sukaribit Smartphone App for Better Self-Management of Type 2 Diabetes: Randomized Controlled Feasibility Study’. It is written by Cecilia Josefsson, Thea Liljeroos, Margareta Hellgren, Ulrika Pöder, Mariann Hedström, and Erik Olsson.

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Last modified: 2023-03-24