A Review of Popular Glucose Tracking Apps and Use of mHealth by Latinos with Diabetes Open Access

Williams, John Patrick (2015)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/s1784m046?locale=en


Background: Diabetes in the United States is a pervasive chronic disease, contributing to hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. Latinos in particular suffer from higher rates of complications and diabetes-related mortality than non-Hispanic Whites. mHealth is a promising new treatment modality for diabetes, though few smartphone apps have been designed specifically for Latinos.

Objectives: (1) To identify common features of popular glucose tracking apps; (2) To determine the use of these apps among a sample of online Hispanics in the U.S.

Methods: First, twenty popular diabetes apps were reviewed to ascertain the most prevalent features and functionalities. Second, an online survey was fielded through a popular health website for Latinos inquiring about respondents' use of diabetes apps.


App review: Approximately one-third of apps were available in Spanish. The most common features were blood glucose recording/annotation and activity logs. Most apps permitted exportation of data via e-mail but only a third enabled uploading to an online account. Twenty percent of apps could connect directly with a glucometer, and 30% had reminder functionalities prompting patients to take medications or check blood glucose levels.

Online survey: Over 1,600 surveys were completed. Over 90% of respondents were from the United States, including Puerto Rico. The majority of respondents used a device running on an Android platform while only a quarter used an iPhone. Use of diabetes apps was approximately 3% among diabetics and 3.6% among diabetics who also had a smartphone. Among app users, blood glucose and medication diaries were the most frequently used functionalities while hemoglobin A1c and insulin diaries were the least used. The majority of app users did not share their progress on social media though many of these were willing to share it with their doctor.

Conclusions: Many Latinos do not possess the diabetes knowledge or self-awareness to fully benefit from the most prevalent functionalities offered by the most popular diabetes apps. We recommend developers incorporate more basic features such as diabetes education, reminder functionalities, Spanish language interfaces, and glucometer connectivities.

Table of Contents

Chapter I: Introduction...1

Context of Project...1

Problem Statement...1

Purpose of Project...2

Chapter II: Literature Review...2

Evidence for mHealth in the pre-smartphone era...3

mHealth in the Era of the Smartphone...6

Evidence for mHealth among Latino diabetics...12

Chapter III: Manuscript...17

Title Page...18

Contribution of Student...19







Tables & Figures...36

Chapter IV: Conclusion and Recommendations...40

Statement of principal findings...40

Strengths and weaknesses of the study...41

Our study in relation to other studies...43

Implications for clinicians and policymakers...45

Implications for researchers and app developers...46



Appendix A: Review of selected glucose tracking apps...55

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