Tech can be a boost to teens' diabetes self-management

Technologies such as mobile apps and text messaging may help teens better control their Type 1 diabetes, according to a study published in Journal of Medical Internet Research.

The study polled 174 adolescents with Type 1 diabetes and their parents about their use of five technologies in their efforts for better control: social networks such as Facebook and Twitter; diabetes-focused websites; mobile diabetes apps; text messaging communication about diabetes; and software with a blood glucose meter or insulin pump.

The most commonly used technology for diabetes was text messaging (53 percent); health websites (25 percent) were the least commonly used.

The teens' top reasons for using them varied by technology. Adolescents said diabetes websites helped them solve problems related to diabetes and helped them feel better about living with diabetes. Those who used diabetes mobile apps said they help keep blood glucose values in range and help them learn how to manage diabetes.

The most common reasons for not using a technology were seeing no need to do so or not wanting to talk about diabetes.

The study found that teens who used social networks, websites, or pump/glucometer software for diabetes were better at self-management, as were those who used several technologies together. However, use of diabetes websites was related to poorer glycemic control.

Previous research, conducted by Children's National Health System and a diabetes treatment team, found that text messages can help keep teen diabetics engaged in healthcare issues and treatment.

Northwestern University research found teens often look for health information online, highlighting the need to make sure that information is accurate, appropriate and easily accessible to teens.

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- here's the research

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