Mobile Health Apps for the Control and Self-management of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: Qualitative Study on Users’ Acceptability and Acceptance

Marloes Bults*, Catharina Margaretha van Leersum, Theodorus Johannes Josef Olthuis, Robin Enya Marije Bekhuis, Marjolein Elisabeth Maria den Ouden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Mobile health apps are promising tools to help patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) improve their health status and thereby achieve diabetes control and self-management. Although there is a wide array of mobile health apps for T2DM available at present, apps are not yet integrated into routine diabetes care. Acceptability and acceptance among patients with T2DM is a major challenge and prerequisite for the successful implementation of apps in diabetes care.
Objective: This study provides an in-depth understanding of the perceptions of patients with T2DM before use (acceptability) and after use (acceptance) regarding 4 different mobile health apps for diabetes control and self-management.
Methods: A descriptive qualitative research design was used in this study. Participants could choose 1 of the 4 selected apps for diabetes control and self-management (ie, in combination with FreeStyle Libre, mySugr, MiGuide, and Selfcare). The selection was based on a systematic analysis of the criteria for (functional) requirements regarding monitoring, data collection, provision of information, coaching, privacy, and security. To explore acceptability, 25 semistructured in-depth interviews were conducted with patients with T2DM before use. This was followed by 4 focus groups to discuss the acceptance after use. The study had a citizen science approach, that is, patients with T2DM collaborated with researchers as coresearchers. All coresearchers actively participated in the preparation of the study, data collection, and data analysis. Data were collected between April and September 2021. Thematic analysis was conducted using a deductive approach using AtlasTi9.
Results: In total, 25 coresearchers with T2DM participated in this study. Of them, 12 coresearchers tested Clear, 5 MiGuide, 4 mySugr, and 4 Selfcare. All coresearchers participated in semistructured interviews, and 18 of them attended focus groups. Personal health was the main driver of app use. Most coresearchers were convinced that a healthy lifestyle would improve blood glucose levels. Although most coresearchers did not expect that they need to put much effort into using the apps, the additional effort to familiarize themselves with the app use was experienced as quite high. None of the coresearchers had a health care professional who provided suggestions on using the apps. Reimbursement from insurance companies and the acceptance of apps for diabetes control and self-management by the health care system were mentioned as important facilitating conditions.
Conclusions: The research showed that mobile health apps provide support for diabetes control and self-management in patients with T2DM. Integrating app use in care as usual and guidelines for health care professionals are recommended. Future research is needed on how to increase the implementation of mobile health apps in current care pathways. In addition, health care professionals need to improve their digital skills, and lifelong learning is recommended.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere41076
Number of pages11
JournalJMIR Diabetes
Issue number1
Early online date14 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jan 2023


  • acceptability
  • acceptance
  • diabetes
  • mHealth
  • mobile apps
  • mobile health
  • mobile phone
  • self-management
  • type 2 diabetes


Dive into the research topics of 'Mobile Health Apps for the Control and Self-management of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: Qualitative Study on Users’ Acceptability and Acceptance'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this