Diabetes is becoming an increasingly prevalent health condition, both in the U.S. and around the world. Well over a third of U.S. adults are prediabetic (about 96 million), with about 37 million more already diagnosed with diabetes. Other conditions, such as obesity can both contribute to diabetes and exacerbate the complications of diabetes.
Because type 2 diabetes, in particular, is preventable, many of the treatment recommendations focus on helping people make lifestyle changes: eating healthier, getting more exercise, and avoiding unhealthy habits like smoking. For many, however, lifestyle habits can be hard to break.
A recent study found that delivering cognitive behavioral therapy via a smartphone app could be an effective way to help people with diabetes manage blood sugar levels and their use of diabetes medications. The study will be presented at the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session, “Together With the World Congress of Cardiology.” The conference takes place March 4-6.
The app was designed to deliver cognitive behavioral therapy to patients, which has been shown to be an effective way to help people change their habits, including ways of doing and thinking. Cognitive behavioral therapy was delivered in the form of personalized lessons designed to help people change their habits or way of thinking. They were asked to complete at least one lesson per week, but could do more if they wanted.
Participants were either assigned to use the new cognitive behavioral therapy app or use a “control app” and receive standard diabetes care.
Overall, researchers found that people who used the cognitive behavioral therapy saw more reduction in their blood sugar levels and even used smaller doses of diabetes medication compared to the control group. These effects seemed to compound: the more cognitive behavioral therapy lessons/sessions a person completed, the greater the benefit.
Researchers emphasized that this was one of the first digital therapeutics to show a positive correlation between usage and blood sugar levels. The app could also be an effective prescription digital therapeutic in the future.
Sources: Eurekalert!; CDC; American College of Cardiology