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J Gen Intern Med. 2018 Jul;33(7):1167-1176. doi: 10.1007/s11606-018-4410-1. Epub 2018 May 8.

Rapid Evidence Review of Mobile Applications for Self-management of Diabetes.

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Scientific Resource Center, Portland VA Research Foundation, Portland, OR, USA.
Scientific Resource Center, Portland VA Research Foundation, Portland, OR, USA.
Department of Medical Informatics and Clinical Epidemiology, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR, USA.
Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of Medicine, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR, USA.
VA Portland Health Care System, Portland, OR, USA.



Patients with diabetes lack information on which commercially available applications (apps) improve diabetes-related outcomes. We conducted a rapid evidence review to examine features, clinical efficacy, and usability of apps for self-management of type 1 and type 2 diabetes in adults.


Ovid/Medline and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews were searched for systematic reviews and technology assessments. Reference lists of relevant systematic reviews were examined for primary studies. Additional searches for primary studies were conducted online, through Ovid/Medline, Embase, CINAHL, and . Studies were evaluated for eligibility based on predetermined criteria, data were extracted, study quality was assessed using a risk of bias tool, information on app features was collected, and app usability was assessed. Results are summarized qualitatively.


Fifteen articles evaluating 11 apps were identified: six apps for type 1 and five apps for type 2 diabetes. Common features of apps included setting reminders and tracking blood glucose and hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), medication use, physical activity, and weight. Compared with controls, use of eight apps, when paired with support from a healthcare provider or study staff, improved at least one outcome, most often HbA1c. Patients did not experience improvements in quality of life, blood pressure, or weight, regardless of app used or type of diabetes. Study quality was variable. Of the eight apps available for usability testing, two were scored "acceptable," three were "marginal," and three were "not acceptable."


Limited evidence suggests that use of some commercially available apps, when combined with additional support from a healthcare provider or study staff, may improve some short-term diabetes-related outcomes. The impact of these apps on longer-term outcomes is unclear. More rigorous and longer-term studies of apps are needed.


This review was funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The protocol is available at: .


consumer health informatics; decision making; diabetes; self-management; telemedicine


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