Diabetes Prevention in Adolescents: Co-design Study Using Human-Centered Design Methodologies

J Particip Med. 2021 Feb 24;13(1):e18245. doi: 10.2196/18245.


Background: The rise in pediatric obesity and its accompanying condition, type 2 diabetes (T2D), is a serious public health concern. T2D in adolescents is associated with poor health outcomes and decreased life expectancy. Effective diabetes prevention strategies for high-risk adolescents and their families are urgently needed.

Objective: The aim of this study was to co-design a diabetes prevention program for adolescents by using human-centered design methodologies.

Methods: We partnered with at-risk adolescents, parents, and professionals with expertise in diabetes prevention or those working with adolescents to conduct a series of human-centered design research sessions to co-design a diabetes prevention intervention for youth and their families. In order to do so, we needed to (1) better understand environmental factors that inhibit/promote recommended lifestyle changes to decrease T2D risk, (2) elucidate desired program characteristics, and (3) explore improved activation in diabetes prevention programs.

Results: Financial resources, limited access to healthy foods, safe places for physical activity, and competing priorities pose barriers to adopting lifestyle changes. Adolescents and their parents desire interactive, hands-on learning experiences that incorporate a sense of fun, play, and community in diabetes prevention programs.

Conclusions: The findings of this study highlight important insights of 3 specific stakeholder groups regarding diabetes prevention and lifestyle changes. The findings of this study demonstrate that, with appropriate methods and facilitation, adolescents, parents, and professionals can be empowered to co-design diabetes prevention programs.

Keywords: adolescents; diabetes prevention; human-centered design.