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Interact J Med Res. 2015 Dec 29;4(4):e24. doi: 10.2196/ijmr.4504.

Use of Commonly Available Technologies for Diabetes Information and Self-Management Among Adolescents With Type 1 Diabetes and Their Parents: A Web-Based Survey Study.

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1
Vanderbilt University, School of Nursing, Nashville, TN, United States.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

For individuals with Type 1 diabetes (T1D), following a complicated daily medical regimen is critical to maintaining optimal health. Adolescents in particular struggle with regimen adherence. Commonly available technologies (eg, diabetes websites, apps) can provide diabetes-related support, yet little is known about how many adolescents with T1D use them, why they are used, or relationships between use and self-management.

OBJECTIVE:

This study examined adolescent and parent use of 5 commonly available technologies for diabetes, including proportions who use each technology, frequency of use, and number of different technologies used for diabetes. Analyses also investigated the reasons adolescents reported for using or not using technologies for diabetes, and factors correlated with adolescents' technology use. Finally, this study examined relationships between the type and number of technologies adolescents use for diabetes and their self-management and glycemic control.

METHODS:

Adolescents (12-17 years) and their parents (N=174 pairs), recruited from a pediatric diabetes clinic (n=134) and the Children with Diabetes community website (n=40), participated in this Web-based survey study. Glycosylated hemoglobin (A1C) values were obtained from medical records for pediatric clinic patients. Adolescents reported their use of 5 commonly available technologies for diabetes (ie, social networking, diabetes websites, mobile diabetes apps, text messaging, and glucometer/insulin pump software), reasons for use, and self-management behavior (Self-Care Inventory-Revised, SCI-R).

RESULTS:

Most adolescents and parents used at least one of the 5 technologies for diabetes. Among adolescents, the most commonly used technology for diabetes was text messaging (53%), and the least commonly used was diabetes websites (25%). Most adolescents who used diabetes apps, text messaging, or pump/glucometer software did so more frequently (≥2 times per week), compared to social networking and website use (≤1 time per week). The demographic, clinical, and parent-technology use factors related to adolescents' technology use varied by technology. Adolescents who used social networking, websites, or pump/glucometer software for diabetes had better self-management behavior (SCI-R scores: beta=.18, P=.02; beta=.15, P=.046; beta=.15, P=.04, respectively), as did those who used several technologies for diabetes (beta=.23, P=.003). However, use of diabetes websites was related to poorer glycemic control (A1C: beta=.18, P=.01).

CONCLUSIONS:

Adolescents with T1D may be drawn to different technologies for different purposes, as individual technologies likely offer differing forms of support for diabetes self-management (eg, tracking blood glucose or aiding problem solving). Findings suggest that technologies that are especially useful for adolescents' diabetes problem solving may be particularly beneficial for their self-management. Additional research should examine relationships between the nature of technology use and adolescents' T1D self-management over time.

KEYWORDS:

adolescent; adoption; diabetes mellitus, Type 1; self-care; self-management; technology

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