Diabetes Self-management Apps: Systematic Review of Adoption Determinants and Future Research Agenda

Hessah Alaslawi, Ilhem Berrou, Abdullah Al Hamid, Dari Alhuwail, Zoe Aslanpour

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Background: Most diabetes management involves self-management. Effective self-management of the condition improves diabetes control, reduces the risk of complications, and improves patient outcomes. Mobile apps for diabetes self-management (DSM) can enhance patients’ self-management activities. However, they are only effective if clinicians recommend them, and patients use them.

Objective: This study aimed to explore the determinants of DSM apps’ use by patients and their recommendations by health care professionals (HCPs). It also outlines the future research agenda for using DSM apps in diabetes care. Methods: We systematically reviewed the factors affecting the adoption of DSM apps by both patients and HCPs. Searches were performed using PubMed, Scopus, CINAHL, Cochrane Central, ACM, and Xplore digital libraries for articles published from 2008 to 2020. The search terms were diabetes, mobile apps, and self-management. Relevant data were extracted from the included studies and analyzed using a thematic synthesis approach. Results: A total of 28 studies met the inclusion criteria. We identified a range of determinants related to patients’ and HCPs’ characteristics, experiences, and preferences. Young female patients were more likely to adopt DSM apps. Patients’ perceptions of the benefits of apps, ease of use, and recommendations by patients and other HCPs strongly affect their intention to use DSM apps. HCPs are less likely to recommend these apps if they do not perceive their benefits and may not recommend their use if they are unaware of their existence or credibility. Young and technology-savvy HCPs were more likely to recommend DSM apps.

Conclusions: Despite the potential of DSM apps to improve patients’ self-care activities and diabetes outcomes, HCPs and patients remain hesitant to use them. However, the COVID-19 pandemic may hasten the integration of technology into diabetes care. The use of DSM apps may become a part of the new normal.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere28153
Number of pages20
JournalJMIR Diabetes
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2022


  • diabetes self-management
  • mHealth adoption
  • mobile apps
  • mobile health
  • mobile phone


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