The role of smartphone applications in preventing Type 2 diabetes mellitus: a systematic review

Esrat Jahan, Rawan Al Mansour, Leticia Bezerra, Rimante Ronto, Kiran Ijaz, Liliana Laranjo

Background: Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is a major public health concern worldwide. Smartphone applications are becoming a popular technological intervention in helping prevent T2DM by promoting a healthier lifestyle; however not much is known about its efficacy and user perspectives.

Aims: To evaluate the effectiveness of smartphone apps in improving clinical outcomes in people at high risk of developing T2DM and explore user perspective.

Methods: Primary studies were searched in four databases from 2008 to 2021 and included if they involved adults at high risk of developing T2DM and tested a smartphone app to prevent type 2 DM. Qualitative studies exploring user perspectives of smartphone apps were also included. A narrative synthesis was conducted for all studies. Continuous outcomes from RCTs were pooled as weighted mean difference (WMD) in two meta-analyses: weight loss and glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c).

Results: After screening 936 articles, 13 experimental, one qualitative and one mixed methods study were included. All except one RCT were conducted in developed countries. Six RCT’s were combined in meta-analyses. There was a significant effect of smartphone apps on weight loss and non-significant in HbA1c levels. Weight, diet and physical activity monitoring were the most common interventions’ features present. Results from qualitative studies highlighted the need for personalisation of smartphone apps.

Conclusions: Smartphone apps have a promising effect in preventing T2DM. Further research needs to be done in developing nations and more qualitative studies are needed to better understand how to better engage user. "