Ideas and enhancements related to mobile applications to support type 1 diabetes

Andy Pulman, Jacqui Taylor, Kathleen Galvin, Mike Masding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Mobile devices have become increasingly important to young people who now use them to access a wide variety of health-related information. Research and policy related to the integration of health information and support with this technology do not effectively consider the viewpoint of a younger patient. Views of young people with type 1 diabetes are vital in developing quality services and improving their own health-related quality of life (HRQOL), yet research on their lifestyle and use of Web and mobile technology to support their condition and in non–health-related areas is sparse. Objective: To develop insight into young people with type 1 diabetes and their current use of Web and mobile technology and its potential impact on HRQOL. This can be achieved by constructing an in-depth picture of their day-to-day experiences from qualitative interviewing and exploring how they make use of technology in their lives and in relation to their condition and treatment. The goal was then to build something to help them, using the researcher’s technical expertise and seeking users’ opinions during the design and build, utilizing sociotechnical design principles. Methods: Data were collected by semistructured, in-depth qualitative interviews (N=9) of young people with type 1 diabetes aged 18-21. Interviews were transcribed and loaded onto NVivo for theme identification. Data analysis was undertaken during initial interviews (n=4) to locate potential ideas and enhancements for technical development. Latter interviews (n=5) assisted in the iterative sociotechnical design process of the development and provided additional developmental ideas. Results: Six themes were identified providing an understanding of how participants lived with and experienced their condition and how they used technology. Four technological suggestions for improvement were taken forward for prototyping. One prototype was developed as a clinically approved app. A number of ideas for new mobile apps and enhancements to currently existing apps that did not satisfactorily cater to this age group’s requirements for use in terms of design and functionality were suggested by interviewees but were not prototyped. Conclusions: This paper outlines the nonprototyped suggestions from interviewees and argues that young people with type 1 diabetes have a key role to play in the design and implementation of new technology to support them and improve HRQOL. It is vital to include and reflect on their suggestions as they have a radically different view of technology than either their parents or practitioners. We need to consider the relationship to technology that young people with type 1 diabetes have, and then reflect on how this might make a difference to them and when it might not be a suitable mechanism to use.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJMIR MHealth and UHealth
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jul 2013

Bibliographical note

© Andy Pulman, Jacqui Taylor, Kathleen Galvin, Mike Masding. Originally published in JMIR mHealth and uHealth (, 25.07.2013. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR mHealth and uHealth, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on, as well as this copyright and license information must be included


  • patient education
  • type 1 diabetes
  • mobile
  • apps
  • sociotechnical design
  • lifeworld
  • humanising healthcare
  • patient voice
  • empathy
  • ideas
  • enhancements


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