Can Electronic Health Interventions Help Manage Diabetes or Obesity?

A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch has found that electronic health interventions, including mhealth, digital health, telemedicine, and telehealth, can help Hispanic and Latino adults improve type 2 diabetes and obesity outcomes in the Americas.  

Researchers conducted a systematic review which included 25 studies published in English and Spanish on electronic health interventions involving a total of 6,230 participants, including 3,413 Hispanic and Latino adults. Of the 22 studies that focused on type 2 diabetes outcomes, 63% of those demonstrated that participants receiving electronic health interventions had significant improvements in hemoglobin A1C and/or blood glucose levels. Three studies were identified that investigated obesity, and 67% of those found improvements in weight. Furthermore, electronic health interventions that included mHealth or more than one type of electronic health intervention were particularly effective.

"The results of the study revealed that electronic health interventions can be a useful tool  to improve hemoglobin A1C and blood glucose levels and weight among Hispanic and Latino adults with type 2 diabetes or obesity,” said Elizabeth Lorenzo, lead author of the study and assistant professor at the School of Nursing at UTMB.

Lorenzo emphasizes that the research intentionally searched for both English and Spanish studies conducted in the Americas, including North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean Islands, to provide a more holistic view of the impact of electronic health interventions on Hispanic and Latino adults' health.

“Not all relevant research might be published in English, and by incorporating Spanish language studies, we are looking at a better representation of the experiences and health outcomes of the Hispanic and Latino populations,” said Lorenzo.

Furthermore, the study highlights the importance of making electronic health interventions available in both English and Spanish to cater to the diverse language needs of  Hispanic and Latino populations. When electronic health interventions were offered in the participants' preferred language, health outcomes improved significantly.

“This systematic study is an important step toward addressing the public health challenges of type 2 diabetes and obesity among the Hispanic and Latino populations,” said Lorenzo. “It supports the need to develop evidence-based guidelines for electronic health interventions to enhance healthcare access for the Hispanic and Latino communities in the Americas.”

Other contributing authors include Alicia Lynn O’Neal from University of Kansas Medical Center; Lisbeth Cantu Garcia and Rebecca E. Lee from the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation at Arizona State University; and Kenny Mendoza from the National Institute of Public Health in México.