What has confidence got to do with type 2 diabetes? 

by Prof Timothy Skinner, Charles Darwin University.

Type 2 diabetes is a demanding condition to manage. It is challenging for people with diabetes to try to manage the lifestyle changes to address all the different risk factors for complications. The changes that people wish to make can often conflict with the habits and preferences that have developed over a lifetime. So putting these changes into place and sustaining them requires support.

There is a substantial mass of evidence that demonstrates when we actively monitor our progress, or actions, we are far more likely to achieve our goals and realise our action plans. This is commonly referred to as self-monitoring. That is, we actively enter data, write it down, or put a coin in a jar to track what we have done. The key is that we self-monitor. When we use Apps, or pedometers to track what we do, we are often not engaged in the act. This is not self-monitoring but technology tracking. A new app launched recently, emojifit® Diabetes, is designed so that people can easily monitor progress and achievements. The app to support lifestyle changes asks the question “How confident are you that you can do this for the next 4 weeks?”

There are a large number of apps currently available for people with type 2 diabetes. The majority are focused on blood glucose monitoring, which plays an important part in managing diabetes, but is not the only risk factor for diabetes complications. Research suggests that, for many complications, managing other risk factors, such as cholesterol, blood pressure and depression are more important than blood glucose. Similarly, we know that not all dietary changes impact equally on the various risk factors. Changing some aspects of our diet has more impact on blood glucose, whilst other changes may have more impact on cholesterol. What’s really important is persistence.

emojifit® Diabetes is an innovative new app to help people to choose one lifestyle change to work on for 4 weeks. The app has been developed by Australian technology company, Decision Support Analytics. Behavioural diabetes researcher, Prof Tim Skinner (Charles Darwin University) heads the development team. emojifit® Diabetes is designed to make self-management easier. App users choose their own priorities based on the diabetes complication they are most concerned about such as, heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, retinopathy, sexual dysfunction, diabetes-related foot problems. Choosing just one thing to work on and feeling confident to persist with the chosen action for 4 weeks is the key to gaining confidence with implementing lifestyle changes.

emojifit® Diabetes is available now on the Apple platform. The designers have worked with Apple CareKit so that users can securely share information with their diabetes care team linked to the ap. The team at Decision Support Analytics plan to have the app available for Android by December but need to raise money. To support the team in achieving the next steps for emojifit® Diabetes, please visit the crowdfunding campaign and share it via social media.