Mobile phones can help self-management of diabetes

A recent systematic review looked at the evidence for mobile phone interventions in helping to manage diabetes.

Clinical question:

In diabetes, do interventions delivered by mobile phone as compared with usual care improve glycaemic control?

The evidence:

The review identified twenty-two trials with 1,657 participants.  They included non-randomised trials.

When they combined the results of these trials, the reviewers found that mobile phone interventions reduced HbA1c by 0.51% (95% CI 0.33 to 0.69%) when compared to control.

However, the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination appraised this paper and commented:

The limited reporting of comparator treatment details and heterogeneity of the results mean that the authors’ conclusions should be interpreted with caution.

Appraisal hints:

  • How well are the specific interventions described?  Would you be able to replicate them?
  • Does it make sense to treat them as if they were the same intervention and combine the individual results in a meta-analysis?
  • What other important sources of clinical heterogeneitywere there between the studies?
  • Are the comparators similar to usual care in your setting?


The CRD’s appraisal is available full text on the DARE website.

Liang X, Wang Q, Yang X, Cao J, Chen J, Mo X, Huang J, Wang L, Gu D. Effect of mobile phone intervention for diabetes on glycaemic control: a meta-analysis. Diabetic Medicine 2011; 28(4): 455-463.

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I am an information scientist with an interest in making knowledge from systematic research more accessible to people who need it. This means you. I've been attempting this in the area of Evidence-Based Health Care since 1995. So far the results have been mixed. For some reason we expected busy clinicians to search databases and appraise papers instead of seeing patients. We also expected publishers to make the research freely available to the people who paid for it.. Ha! Hence The National Elf service.

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