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PLoS One. 2018 Dec 10;13(12):e0208942. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0208942. eCollection 2018.

Users' preferences and design recommendations to promote engagements with mobile apps for diabetes self-management: Multi-national perspectives.

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College of Medicine and Dentistry, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia.
College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia.



Mobile phone applications (apps) offer motivation and support for self-management of diabetes mellitus (DM), but their use is limited by high attrition due to insufficient consideration of end-users perspectives and usability requirements. This study aimed to examine app usage and feature preferences among people with DM, and explore their recommendations for future inclusions to foster engagement with diabetes apps.


The study was conducted internationally on adults with type 1 or type 2 DM using online questionnaire (quantitative) to investigate usage and preferences for app features that support diabetes self-management and semi structured telephone interview (qualitative) to explore suggestions on fostering engagement and specific educational information for inclusion into diabetes apps. Survey and interview data were analysed using descriptive/ inferential statistics and inductive thematic analysis respectively.


A total of 217 respondents with type 1 DM (38.25%) or type 2 DM (61.8%), from 4 continents (Australia, Europe, Asia and America) participated in the survey. About half of the respondents (48%) use apps, mainly with features for tracking blood glucose (56.6%), blood pressure (51.9%) and food calories (48.1%). Preferred features in future apps include nutrient values of foods (56.7%), blood glucose (54.8%), physical exercise tracker (47%), health data analytics (42.9%) and education on diabetes self-management (40.6%). Irrespective of the type of DM, participants proposed future apps that are user friendly, support healthy eating, provide actionable reminders and consolidate data across peripheral health devices. Participants with type 1 DM recommended customised features with news update on developments in the field of diabetes. Nominated specific educational topics included tips on problem solving, use of insulin pump therapy, signs of diabetes complication and transitioning from paediatric into adult care.


The study has highlighted patients' perspectives on essential components for inclusion in diabetes apps to promote engagement and foster better health outcomes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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