Community-Driven Priorities in Smartphone Application Development: Leveraging Social Networks to Self-Manage Type 2 Diabetes in a Low-Income African American Neighborhood.


Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA. [Email]


Social networks have the potential to enhance Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) self-management. We used qualitative methods to study if and how mobile application (app) functions that mobilize social resources to improve T2DM management would be desired in a low-income African American community. Data were collected through community discussions and in-depth interviews with 78 participants in 2016-2018. Participants included individuals with self-reported pre-diabetes, T2DM, close family members or friends of a T2DM patient, and healthcare providers. Open-ended questions solicited information about challenges with T2DM management and gathered ideas on features of a mobile app that could address them. Data were transcribed and thematically coded by two coders using Atlas-ti. Regarding types of app functions, main themes included: (1) the importance of having support in diabetes self-care; (2) using informal networks to help to each other; and (3) monitoring one another through an app. Suggested app features included reminders for and transportation to medical visits, sharing information and exercise companionship, and providing opportunities for monitoring by friends/family members, especially in case of emergencies. Participants viewed an app as a potential vehicle for reinforcing accomplishments in T2DM self-management. Future research should implement and test an app with these features in this or similar communities.


diabetes,mHealth,mobile application,social network,type 2 diabetes mellitus,