The Use of Digital Health Interventions for Cardiometabolic Diseases Among South Asian and Black Minority Ethnic Groups: Realist Review

J Med Internet Res. 2023 Jan 6;25:e40630. doi: 10.2196/40630.


Background: Digital health interventions (DHIs) for the prevention and management of cardiometabolic diseases have become increasingly common. However, there is limited evidence for the suitability of these approaches in minority ethnic populations, who are at an increased risk of these diseases.

Objective: This study aimed to investigate the use of DHIs for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes among minority ethnic populations in countries with a majority of White, English-speaking populations, focusing on people who identified as South Asian, Black, or African American.

Methods: A realist methodology framework was followed. A literature search was conducted to develop context-mechanism-outcome configurations, including the contexts in which DHIs work for the target minority ethnic groups, mechanisms that these contexts trigger, and resulting health outcomes. After systematic searches, a qualitative analysis of the included studies was conducted using deductive and inductive coding.

Results: A total of 15 studies on the uptake of DHIs for cardiovascular disease or diabetes were identified, of which 13 (87%) focused on people with an African-American background. The review found evidence supporting the use of DHIs in minority ethnic populations when specific factors are considered in implementation and design, including patients' beliefs, health needs, education and literacy levels, material circumstances, culture, social networks, and wider community and the supporting health care systems.

Conclusions: Our context-mechanism-outcome configurations provide a useful guide for the future development of DHIs targeted at South Asian and Black minority ethnic populations, with specific recommendations for improving cultural competency and promoting accessibility and inclusivity of design.

Keywords: African American; Black; CVD; South Asia; cardiology; cardiometabolic; cardiometabolic disease; cardiovascular; context-mechanism-outcome; diabetes; diabetic; digital health; eHealth; ethnic; health inequality; heart; literature search; migrant; minority; mobile phone; realist; review; systematic search; type 2.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Asian People
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / prevention & control
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / therapy
  • Ethnicity
  • Humans
  • Minority Groups