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Tech Aids Show Signs of Promise in Helping Individuals Manage Diabetes

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Mar 29, 2013 10:58 AM EDT
Diabetes
(Photo : REUTERS/Radu Sigheti)

An assessment of 16 studies found that individuals using technology to help them manage their diabetes are likely to see improvement in several key areas of their health, though not all.

Led by Kingshuk Pal, BM BChir, of University College London, the team examined controlled trials involving over 3,500 adults with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

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The kinds of tech aids examined include:

- Touch screen assessments with or without the development of an action plan to maintain the disease

- Computer-based education regarding diabetes

- Online peer support and education

- Dietary planners

- Mobile phone or pager contact

- Mobile phone glucose data transmission

Taking into account the age, gender and computer literacy of those involved in the studies, researchers found that those using one or more of these showed an improvement in knowledge regarding the disease as well as self-efficacy. People's diet, too, tended to improve when a tech-based aid was used. And finally, those specifically using a mobile app were more likely to see better results on outcomes of HbA1c, a lab test that shows a person's average level of blood sugar over the previous three months.

When it came to blood pressure, levels of blood lipids and HbA1c results in any other case, the findings were mixed. And finally, levels of anxiety and depression appeared to remain the same.

The study is in no way conclusive, according to its authors who cautioned, according to medpagetoday.com, that an extensive follow-up story is required to improve understanding of the long-term effects of tech-based aids, if any. 

According to the American Diabetes Association, there are a total of 26 million adults and children living with diabetes in the U.S. with 79 million more considered to be in a pre-diabetes stage. 

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