The Spanish Availability and Readability of Diabetes Apps

J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2018 May;12(3):719-724. doi: 10.1177/1932296817749610. Epub 2018 Jan 2.


Background: There is growing evidence supporting the use of mobile health apps for the management of diabetes. Given the disproportionate impact of diabetes on Latinos, especially those with limited English proficiency (LEP) and low literacy, diabetes apps have the potential to address existing health disparities. Our study aimed to understand the current accessibility of diabetes apps for these populations.

Methods: We searched the Android and iOS stores for the term "diabetes" to identify patient-facing diabetes apps. We reviewed the app store descriptions and user interfaces for Spanish availability. We assessed the readability of the descriptions in English and Spanish using the Lexile Analyzer and the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Grade Level.

Results: Overall, in reviewing both app stores, 30% (28/92) of apps had descriptions available in Spanish, of which 41% (18/44) of Android apps were available in Spanish and 21% (10/48) iOS apps were available in Spanish. In addition, the readability of 94% (90/96) for the app store descriptions was above the recommended reading level for patient education material in English and Spanish. The overall kappa coefficient for app translation quality assessment was .72, reflecting moderate interrater agreement.

Conclusions: Despite the evidence supporting the use of diabetes apps, they do not cater to the language needs of LEP Latino patients.

Keywords: diabetes mellitus; digital divide; health disparities; health literacy; limited English proficiency; mobile health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Comprehension*
  • Diabetes Mellitus*
  • Health Literacy*
  • Hispanic Americans
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Mobile Applications*
  • Patient Education as Topic