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      The Effectiveness of Smartphone Apps for Lifestyle Improvement in Noncommunicable Diseases: Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses

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          Abstract

          Background

          Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) account for 70% of all deaths in a year globally. The four main NCDs are cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic pulmonary diseases, and diabetes mellitus. Fifty percent of persons with NCD do not adhere to prescribed treatment; in fact, adherence to lifestyle interventions is especially considered as a major challenge. Smartphone apps permit structured monitoring of health parameters, as well as the opportunity to receive feedback.

          Objective

          The aim of this study was to review and assess the effectiveness of app-based interventions, lasting at least 3 months, to promote lifestyle changes in patients with NCDs.

          Methods

          In February 2017, a literature search in five databases (EMBASE, MEDLINE, CINAHL, Academic Research Premier, and Cochrane Reviews and Trials) was conducted. Inclusion criteria was quantitative study designs including randomized and nonrandomized controlled trials that included patients aged 18 years and older diagnosed with any of the four main NCDs. Lifestyle outcomes were physical activity, physical fitness, modification of dietary habits, and quality of life. All included studies were assessed for risk of bias using the Cochrane Collaboration`s risk of bias tool. Meta-analyses were conducted for one of the outcomes (glycated hemoglobin, HbA 1c) by using the estimate of effect of mean post treatment with SD or CI. Heterogeneity was tested using the I 2 test. All studies included in the meta-analyses were graded.

          Results

          Of the 1588 records examined, 9 met the predefined criteria. Seven studies included diabetes patients only, one study included heart patients only, and another study included both diabetes and heart patients. Statistical significant effect was shown in HbA 1c in 5 of 8 studies, as well in body weight in one of 5 studies and in waist circumference in one of 3 studies evaluating these outcomes. Seven of the included studies were included in the meta-analyses and demonstrated significantly overall effect on HbA 1c on a short term (3-6 months; P=.02) with low heterogeneity (I 2=41%). In the long term (10-12 months), the overall effect on HbA 1c was statistical significant ( P=.009) and without heterogeneity (I 2=0%). The quality of evidence according to Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation was low for short term and moderate for long term.

          Conclusions

          Our review demonstrated limited research of the use of smartphone apps for NCDs other than diabetes with a follow-up of at least 3 months. For diabetes, the use of apps seems to improve lifestyle factors, especially to decrease HbA 1c. More research with long-term follow-up should be performed to assess the effect of smartphone apps for NCDs other than diabetes.

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          Most cited references 23

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          Internet-Based Physical Activity Interventions: A Systematic Review of the Literature

          Background Nowadays people are extensively encouraged to become more physically active. The Internet has been brought forward as an effective tool to change physical activity behavior. However, little is known about the evidence regarding such Internet-based interventions. Objective The aim of the study was to systematically assess the methodological quality and the effectiveness of interventions designed to promote physical activity by means of the Internet as evaluated by randomized controlled trials. Methods A literature search was conducted up to July 2006 using the databases PubMed, Web of Science, EMBASE, PsycINFO, and Cochrane Library. Only randomized controlled trials describing the effectiveness of an Internet-based intervention, with the promotion of physical activity among adults being one of its major goals, were included. Data extracted included source and year of publication, country of origin, targeted health behaviors, participants’ characteristics, characteristics of the intervention, and effectiveness data. In addition, the methodological quality was assessed. Results The literature search resulted in 10 eligible studies of which five met at least nine out of 13 general methodological criteria. The majority of the interventions were tailored to the characteristics of the participants and used interactive self-monitoring and feedback tools. Six studies used one or more theoretical models to compose the contents of the interventions. One study used an objective measure to assess the amount of physical activity (activity monitor), and six studies used multiple subjective measures of physical activity. Furthermore, half of the studies employed measures of physical fitness other than physical activity. In three studies, an Internet-based physical activity intervention was compared with a waiting list group. Of these three studies, two reported a significantly greater improvement in physical activity levels in the Internet-based intervention than in the control group. Seven studies compared two types of Internet-based physical activity interventions in which the main difference was either the intensity of contact between the participants and supervisors (4 studies) or the type of treatment procedures applied (3 studies). In one of these studies, a significant effect in favor of an intervention with more supervisor contact was seen. Conclusions There is indicative evidence that Internet-based physical activity interventions are more effective than a waiting list strategy. The added value of specific components of Internet-based physical activity interventions such as increased supervisor contact, tailored information, or theoretical fidelity remains to be established. Methodological quality as well as the type of physical activity outcome measure varied, stressing the need for standardization of these measures.
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            Do Mobile Phone Applications Improve Glycemic Control (HbA1c) in the Self-management of Diabetes? A Systematic Review, Meta-analysis, and GRADE of 14 Randomized Trials.

            To investigate the effect of mobile phone applications (apps) on glycemic control (HbA1c) in the self-management of diabetes.
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              Telehealth Interventions to Support Self-Management of Long-Term Conditions: A Systematic Metareview of Diabetes, Heart Failure, Asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, and Cancer

              Background Self-management support is one mechanism by which telehealth interventions have been proposed to facilitate management of long-term conditions. Objective The objectives of this metareview were to (1) assess the impact of telehealth interventions to support self-management on disease control and health care utilization, and (2) identify components of telehealth support and their impact on disease control and the process of self-management. Our goal was to synthesise evidence for telehealth-supported self-management of diabetes (types 1 and 2), heart failure, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cancer to identify components of effective self-management support. Methods We performed a metareview (a systematic review of systematic reviews) of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of telehealth interventions to support self-management in 6 exemplar long-term conditions. We searched 7 databases for reviews published from January 2000 to May 2016 and screened identified studies against eligibility criteria. We weighted reviews by quality (revised A Measurement Tool to Assess Systematic Reviews), size, and relevance. We then combined our results in a narrative synthesis and using harvest plots. Results We included 53 systematic reviews, comprising 232 unique RCTs. Reviews concerned diabetes (type 1: n=6; type 2, n=11; mixed, n=19), heart failure (n=9), asthma (n=8), COPD (n=8), and cancer (n=3). Findings varied between and within disease areas. The highest-weighted reviews showed that blood glucose telemonitoring with feedback and some educational and lifestyle interventions improved glycemic control in type 2, but not type 1, diabetes, and that telemonitoring and telephone interventions reduced mortality and hospital admissions in heart failure, but these findings were not consistent in all reviews. Results for the other conditions were mixed, although no reviews showed evidence of harm. Analysis of the mediating role of self-management, and of components of successful interventions, was limited and inconclusive. More intensive and multifaceted interventions were associated with greater improvements in diabetes, heart failure, and asthma. Conclusions While telehealth-mediated self-management was not consistently superior to usual care, none of the reviews reported any negative effects, suggesting that telehealth is a safe option for delivery of self-management support, particularly in conditions such as heart failure and type 2 diabetes, where the evidence base is more developed. Larger-scale trials of telehealth-supported self-management, based on explicit self-management theory, are needed before the extent to which telehealth technologies may be harnessed to support self-management can be established.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                J Med Internet Res
                J. Med. Internet Res
                JMIR
                Journal of Medical Internet Research
                JMIR Publications (Toronto, Canada )
                1439-4456
                1438-8871
                May 2018
                04 May 2018
                : 20
                : 5
                Affiliations
                1 Department of Physiotherapy Faculty of Health Sciences OsloMet—Oslo Metropolitan University Oslo Norway
                2 Section for Physiotherapy Division of Medicine Oslo University Hospital Oslo Norway
                3 Center for Connected Care Oslo University Hospital Oslo Norway
                4 Department of Strategy and Entrepreneurship BI Norwegian School of Business Oslo Norway
                5 Department of Nursing and Health Promotion Faculty of Health Sciences OsloMet—Oslo Metropolitan University Oslo Norway
                6 European Palliative Care Research Centre Department of Oncology Oslo University Hospital and Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Oslo Oslo Norway
                Author notes
                Corresponding Author: Pernille Lunde plunde@ 123456oslomet.no
                Article
                v20i5e162
                10.2196/jmir.9751
                5960039
                29728346
                ©Pernille Lunde, Birgitta Blakstad Nilsson, Astrid Bergland, Kari Jorunn Kværner, Asta Bye. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (http://www.jmir.org), 04.05.2018.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on http://www.jmir.org/, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

                Categories
                Review
                Review

                Medicine

                smartphone, telemedicine, noncommunicable diseases, lifestyle, diet, exercise

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