Participant experiences in a smartphone-based health coaching intervention for type 2 diabetes: A qualitative inquiry

J Telemed Telecare. 2016 Apr;22(3):172-8. doi: 10.1177/1357633X15595178. Epub 2015 Jul 21.


Introduction: We investigated the experience of individuals diagnosed with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) who participated in an intervention in which the key elements were the provision of a smartphone and self-monitoring software. The interviews focused on use of a smartphone and the effects on motivation for health behavior change.

Methods: This was a qualitative evaluation of participants in a larger T2DM self-management randomized controlled trial (RCT) conducted at the Black Creek Community Health Centre (BCCHC) in Toronto, Canada ( Identifier: NCT02036892). The study is based on semi-structured interviews (n = 11) that were audio taped and analyzed with a thematic analytic approach. The RCT compared the effectiveness of six months of smartphone-based self-monitoring and health coaching with a control group who received health coaching without internet or smartphone-based assistance.

Results: Qualitative data analyses resulted in derivation of four major themes that describe participant experience: (a) 'smartphone and software', describes smartphone use in relation to health behavior change; (b) 'health coach' describes how client/health coach relationships were assisted by smartphone use; (c) 'overall experience' describes perceptions of the overall intervention; and (d) 'frustrations in managing chronic conditions' describes difficulties with the complexities of T2DM management from a patient perspective.

Discussion: Findings suggest that interventions with T2DM assisted by smartphone software and health coaches actively engage individuals in improved hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) control.

Keywords: Smartphone intervention; ehealth; health coaching; lifestyle modification; mobile health; qualitative research; type 2 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Canada
  • Counseling / methods
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / therapy*
  • Disease Management
  • Female
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A / analysis
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mentoring / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Qualitative Research
  • Self Care / methods
  • Smartphone*
  • Social Support


  • Glycated Hemoglobin A

Associated data