Technology and diabetes self-management: An integrative review

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This review examined the types of technology available to facilitate self-management for people with diabetes and the impacts of this technology. It focuses on studies published into mobile phone and internet interventions and includes 14 studies published between 2008 and 2015. The review found that technological interventions were associated with improved blood sugar control, self-management behaviours and self-efficacy.

The review sets out that technology can be used to supplement healthcare provider diabetes care by providing both educational and motivational support. It argues that technology can extend the reach of diabetes education and support when primary care resources are insufficient or patient resources and access to care are limited. In these cases, education can be provided using technological resources so that patients learn new practices and routines related to diabetes management. It further argues that technology can support the daily diabetes self-management activities of blood glucose monitoring, exercising, healthy eating, taking medication, monitoring for complications, and problem-solving. Visual feedback of clinical information, including these self-management activities, improves patients’ ability to see how diabetes is affected by their behaviors and promotes decision-making and problem-solving. Monitoring of self-management behaviors can be motivational and allows for more frequent contact between patients and healthcare providers. This can lead to necessary changes in self-management behaviors and treatment plans.

The author concludes that healthcare providers should actively select and adapt technological self-management methods to extend the reach of diabetes self-management to patient’s communities and homes, provide for individualized care, and provide just-in-time information. People living with diabetes who have limited access to care due to lack of transportation, physical restrictions, or other limitations could benefit from technological interventions that bring care to them. Additionally, with limited primary care resources, technology can provide cost-effective ongoing diabetes self-management education and support. 

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