Dr Tara Kaushal Discusses Benefits of Active Technology Use as a Health Intervention for T1D

June 26, 2020

Peer support is a huge advantage of technological health interventions for teens with type 1 diabetes (T1D), while integrating technology with physical activities is important when promoting healthy lifestyles, said Tara Kaushal, MD, physician and clinical researcher at Joslin Diabetes Center.

Peer support is a huge advantage of technological health interventions for teens with type 1 diabetes (T1D), while integrating technology with physical activities is important when promoting healthy lifestyles, said Tara Kaushal, MD, physician and clinical researcher at Joslin Diabetes Center.

Transcript:

How do you foresee your digital health intervention becoming scalable, what with the financial incentive involved?

The next step in the study, now that we've sort of established feasibility and satisfaction, would be to test it in a larger randomized control trial that's powered to detect differences in outcomes. I think once you prove or can show that there is an impact in outcomes, then getting support to support the financial incentive piece is more effective. I think that we would probably have to investigate the findings in a larger group before scaling it, but this is certainly the first step in doing that.

As more technological tools become available to aid in managing health conditions, how do providers reconcile the conflicting message that technology use (i.e. screen time) can contribute to unhealthy youth lifestlyes in the first place?

Like many things, it can be a blessing and a curse. I think what what my aim to do in my research in general, and certainly with my collaborators in this project, was to really tip the scales towards utilizing technology for healthy behavior. I think 2 aspects of the way this study that were set up that highlight the positive aspects of technology, one is that team and peer support aspect. The participants were in teams with other participants with T1D and elevated cardiovascular risk. They were completing these challenges together. I think connectivity and peer support is certainly a huge advantage, especially these days, of technology, for sure. Then secondly, I think it's important to integrate the technology with real activity. The Pacer app is a really good example of that. The participants actually physically walked and the phone actually physically picked up how many steps they were taking. I know a lot of other apps have that feature as well. I think the more active use of technology as opposed to the passive use of technology is something that we as providers and health educators can certainly sort of optimize the use of.

Do you have any final thoughts you would like to share?

Just like the care of patients with diabetes in general, this was definitely a team effort. These studies are large undertakings, and they take a lot of cooperation between the actual study team, the participants, and the clinicians that help us speak to participants and recruit them. That would be my biggest message, that we really all have to work together to help this vulnerable group reduce their complications in the long term.