The Diabetes App Challenge: Recruiting and Supporting Young People with Diabetes to Develop Apps for Other Young People with Diabetes

Emily Ashurst* Ray Jones*
Emily Ashurst*, Plymouth University, Plymouth, United Kingdom
Ray Jones*, Plymouth University, Plymouth, United Kingdom
Kate Boddy, Peninsula Medical School, Exeter, United Kingdom
Martin Jenner, Diabetes UK, Barnstaple, United Kingdom
Charles Abraham, Peninsula Medical School, Exeter, United Kingdom
Suzanne Hammersley, Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, Exeter, United Kingdom
Rachel Besser, Peninsula Medical School, Exeter, United Kingdom
Jonathan Pinkney, Peninsula Medical School, Plymouth, United Kingdom

Track: Research
Presentation Topic: Building virtual communities and social networking applications for patients and consumers
Presentation Type: Oral presentation
Submission Type: Single Presentation

Building: Mermaid
Room: Room 3 - Upper River Room
Date: 2013-09-23 04:00 PM – 06:00 PM
Last modified: 2013-09-25

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Background: Learning to live with diabetes can be a challenge especially at the time of transition from being children with diabetes, when parents mostly take responsibility, to adults with total responsibility for managing their diabetes. Getting the best from consultations with health care professionals can also be a challenge for young people with diabetes (YPD). Apps preparing YPD for their consultations could help but it seemed the best people to develop such apps should be YPD – with some help.

Objectives: We aimed to test the feasibility of supporting YPD to develop apps to help other YPD get the best from their consultations.

Methods: The Diabetes App Challenge was a national UK invitation from 20th June to 14th October 2012 to YPD (aged 16-25) to develop and submit apps (or websites) for subsequent use by other YPD. We used various means to advertise the invitation including Twitter, Facebook, Google Ads, emails to diabetes clinics and various listserves, and the Diabetes UK website and newsletter. We offered instruction, app submission guidance and support if needed to app developers. In the second stage of the study we invited YPD to register to try out the submitted apps, choose one and review it.

Results: Twenty-eight YPDs and 25 non-diabetic app developers expressed interest in submitting apps or websites. Some applied as a team, other teams were match-made by us. Technical support was offered via a discussion forum but was not used much. Finally, 6 apps were submitted, 1 for iOS, 2 for Android, and 3 websites.

Our expectation, but this was not a ‘requirement’, was that apps would be developed to help ‘agenda set’ in the consultation. However, only two of the six took that approach with the other four concentrating more on insulin dose, blood glucose, and diet recording. In the second stage, 135 YPD registered to be ‘app testers’ of whom 83 (62%) reviewed an app. The mean age of reviewers was 19 (37 male, 46 female). The two most popular choices were the iOS app (recording and displaying dose and data) and an agenda setting website.

Further investigation is under way with participants to determine the influence of device versus app function in choice. Just over half (46/83) said they would use the app again for their next appointment and two thirds (67/83) would recommend their chosen app to a friend.

Conclusions: The ‘traditional’ user-centred approach to developing apps would be to engage a user-panel and work with them to elicit their needs but, with professional developers, to iteratively prototype and review the apps until ready for release. This study has shown that supporting young people with diabetes to develop their own apps is feasible. Our data collection will be complete by September and we will present our conclusions on whether this approach of co-production by users is worthwhile.

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