B. Holtz, Katharine M. Mitchell, Amanda J. Holmstrom
Sep 14, 2021
JMIR mHealth and uHealth
BACKGROUND Type 1 diabetes (T1D) affects more than 165,000 individuals younger than 20 years in the United States of America. The transition from parent management to parent-child team management, with the child taking on increased levels of self-care, can be stressful and is associated with a deterioration in self-management behaviors. Therefore, a mobile app intervention, MyT1DHero, was designed to facilitate diabetes-specific positive parent-adolescent communication and improve diabetes-related outcomes. The MyT1DHero intervention links an adolescent with T1D and their parent through 2 separate app interfaces and is designed to promote positive communication regarding T1D management. OBJECTIVE The aim of this pilot study was to determine (1) the initial efficacy of the MyT1DHero intervention in improving diabetes outcomes in adolescents, specifically the hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels, diabetes care adherence, and quality of life, and (2) the adolescents' overall satisfaction with this intervention. METHODS This pilot study included 30 adolescent-parent pairs who used the MyT1DHero app in a 12-week single-arm clinical trial. Participants were recruited from the local pediatric endocrinology subspecialty clinic via snowball sampling. HbA1c levels, diabetes care adherence, quality of life, family conflict, and satisfaction levels were measured and analyzed using paired sample two-sided t tests and linear regression analyses. RESULTS The final analysis included 25 families. The mean age of the adolescents was 12.28 (SD 1.62) years. Half of the participants (13/25) reported a diabetes diagnosis of less than 5 years. After 12 weeks of the intervention, diabetes care adherence significantly improved (before the study: mean 3.87 [SD 0.59]; after the study: mean 4.19 [SD 0.65]; t21=-2.52, P=.02, d=0.52) as did quality of life (before the study: mean 4.02 [SD 0.84]; after the study: mean 4.27 [SD 0.73]; t24=2.48, P=.01, d=0.32). HbA1c levels (before the study: mean 8.94 [SD 1.46]; after the study: mean 8.87 [SD 1.29]; t24=0.67, P=.51, d=0.04) and family conflict (before the study: mean 2.45 [SD 0.55]; after the study: mean 2.61 [SD 0.45]; t23=0.55, P=.14, d=0.32) changed in the hypothesized direction, but the change was not significant. However, higher use of the mobile app was associated with more improvement in HbA1c levels (F1,20=9.74, P<.005; R2=0.33). Overall, the adolescents were satisfied with the app intervention. CONCLUSIONS In a 12-week pilot study of the mobile app intervention designed to facilitate parent-adolescent communication for improving diabetes outcomes, significant benefits were demonstrated in self-care adherence and quality of life. A randomized controlled trial with a longer intervention is needed to replicate these findings and to determine the stability of the intervention effects. TRIAL REGISTRATION ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03436628; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03436628.