Research Brief| Volume 50, ISSUE 1, P62-69.e1, January 2018

Results of the Clinician Apps Survey, How Clinicians Working With Patients With Diabetes and Obesity Use Mobile Health Apps



      To develop and administer a questionnaire to determine what factors may be associated with app use (including frequency of use, reasons to recommend to clients/patients, perceived effectiveness on health, health aspects used, features, and types of apps) by clinicians working in diabetes and weight management patient care settings.


      The Clinician Apps Survey was developed and contained 3 question domains (smartphone apps use, behavior theory in counseling sessions, and demographics) to explore frequency, types, preferred features, benefits/barriers of using apps, counseling techniques used, and clinician demographics. Clinicians (n = 719) were recruited to complete the online survey through 4 dietetics and diabetes professional groups. Clinician use and preferences for health-related apps for personal reasons and in patient care settings were determined, and comparisons were made between high and non-app users. Descriptive statistics were used with current practices and attitudes about apps. Chi-square test of independence compared those using apps both personally and professionally (app enthusiasts) vs those with no app use.


      There were more app enthusiasts (53%; n = 380) than non-app users (20%; n = 145). Whereas 68% recommended pen/paper methods for diet and physical activity monitoring, 62% recommended apps. Most agreed that apps were superior to traditional methods for patients to track dietary intake (62%) and physical activity (58%), make better food choices (34%), lose weight (45%), and track blood glucose (43%). App enthusiasts used the American Association of Diabetes Educators self-care guidelines (P = .001) and advanced counseling techniques (eg, motivational interviewing) more often than did non-app users (P < .004). Apps most frequently recommended to clients were MyFitnessPal (n = 425), CalorieKing (n = 356), and Fitbit (n = 312).

      Conclusions and Implications

      Health-related smartphone apps are being widely used and recommended to patients with diabetes and obesity by clinicians for self-monitoring of dietary and physical activity behaviors. Furthermore, many clinicians believe that these types of tracking apps may improve patient outcomes compared with traditional methods of monitoring dietary and physical activity behaviors.

      Key Words

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