A Novel Mobile Health App to Educate and Empower Young People With Type 1 Diabetes to Exercise Safely: Prospective Single-Arm Mixed Methods Pilot Study

Vinutha B Shetty, Wayne H K Soon, Alison G Roberts, Leanne Fried, Heather C Roby, Grant J Smith, Paul A Fournier, Timothy W Jones, Elizabeth A Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Empowering young people with type 1 diabetes (T1D) to manage their blood glucose levels during exercise is a complex challenge faced by health care professionals due to the unpredictable nature of exercise and its effect on blood glucose levels. Mobile health (mHealth) apps would be useful as a decision-support aid to effectively contextualize a blood glucose result and take appropriate action to optimize glucose levels during and after exercise. A novel mHealth app acT1ve was recently developed, based on expert consensus exercise guidelines, to provide real-time support for young people with T1D during exercise.

OBJECTIVE: Our aim was to pilot acT1ve in a free-living setting to assess its acceptability and functionality, and gather feedback on the user experience before testing it in a larger clinical trial.

METHODS: A prospective single-arm mixed method design was used. Ten participants with T1D (mean age 17.7 years, SD 4.2 years; mean HbA1c, 54 mmol/mol, SD 5.5 mmol/mol [7.1%, SD 0.5%]) had acT1ve installed on their phones, and were asked to use the app to guide their exercise management for 6 weeks. At the end of 6 weeks, participants completed both a semistructured interview and the user Mobile Application Rating Scale (uMARS). All semistructured interviews were transcribed. Thematic analysis was conducted whereby interview transcripts were independently analyzed by 2 researchers to uncover important and relevant themes. The uMARS was scored for 4 quality subscales (engagement, functionality, esthetics, and information), and a total quality score was obtained from the weighted average of the 4 subscales. Scores for the 4 objective subscales were determined by the mean score of each of its individual questions. The perceived impact and subjective quality of acT1ve for each participant were calculated by averaging the scores of their related questions, but were not considered in the total quality score. All scores have a maximal possible value of 5, and they are presented as medians, IQRs, and ranges.

RESULTS: The main themes arising from the interview analysis were "increased knowledge," "increased confidence to exercise," and "suitability" for people who were less engaged in exercise. The uMARS scores for acT1ve were high (out of 5) for its total quality (median 4.3, IQR 4.2-4.6), engagement (median 3.9, IQR 3.6-4.2), functionality (median 4.8, IQR 4.5-4.8), information (median 4.6, IQR 4.5-4.8), esthetics (median 4.3, IQR 4.0-4.7), subjective quality (median 4.0, IQR 3.8-4.2), and perceived impact (median 4.3, IQR 3.6-4.5).

CONCLUSIONS: The acT1ve app is functional and acceptable, with a high user satisfaction. The efficacy and safety of this app will be tested in a randomized controlled trial in the next phase of this study.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR) ACTRN12619001414101; https://www.anzctr.org.au/Trial/Registration/TrialReview.aspx?id=378373.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere29739
JournalJMIR Diabetes
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 14 Oct 2021


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