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Digital Vigilance


Parents of children with Type 1 diabetes (T1D) must be vigilant as they monitor their child’s health data due to the possibility of life threatening blood glucose (BG) changes. Pervasive technology that collects and displays health data can be an aid to parents but can also create stress in the parent-child relationship. This project seeks to better understand the influence of these technologies on parent-child interactions and diabetes self-care.
In-depth interviews of children who have T1D and their parents were conducted to better understand tensions that occur in families as they use technology to cope with diabetes across the continuum of childhood development. Children at three different developmental stages were studied: Older Elementary, Early Adolescence, and Late Adolescence. Emergent themes from the interviews were used to define a set of 14 design heuristics for technology that are tailored to stage-based concerns of children with T1D.
A 12-month controlled trial of a wireless technology that automatically collects BG values, communicates them via SMS, and sends a daily report of 21-day BG trends to user designated email addresses was conducted to determine if the system would improve glycemic control, diabetes self-care knowledge, and attitude towards BG checking when compared to conventionally managed patients. It was found that children in the experimental group had significantly better glycemic control and were more meticulous in diabetes self-care compared to the control group. Parents also showed significant reduction in their anxiety related their child’s routine BG checks compared to parents in the control group.
The synthesis of findings from these studies shows that pervasive technologies may be beneficial for reducing parent-child tensions and may help children gain new diabetes self-management skills.
Team: Tammy Toscos, Kay Connelly
Partners: Diabetech