Abstract

Importance: Self-management programs (facilitated by mobile devices) may improve health and prevent secondary complications for older adults with diabetes. However, older adults may have difficulties using mobile devices because of neuropathy or cognitive dysfunction.

Objective: To identify sensorimotor and cognitive abilities associated with touchscreen tablet app performance to support self-management of diabetes in older adults.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: Outpatient Center for Successful Aging With Diabetes.

Participants: Forty-five older adults with Type 2 diabetes.

Outcomes and Measures: Dexterity (Purdue Pegboard Test), touch sensation (Semmes–Weinstein monofilaments), pinch strength (pinch gauge), cognition (Montreal Cognitive Assessment), and executive functioning (Trail Making Test) were assessed. Two apps were then used: Dexteria and SuCare. Demographic data, prior mobile device use, and diabetes severity (hemoglobin A1C [HbA1C]) were collected.

Results: Age and HbA1C accounted for 29.8% and 9.7%, respectively, of the total variance of Dexteria performance time (dominant hand). Dexterity (dominant hand) accounted for an additional 5.4% of the total variance of 45.1%, F(4, 40) = 10.021, p < .001. Prior mobile device use, age, and diabetes severity accounted for 6.4%, 11.8%, and 26.4%, respectively, of the total variance of SuCare performance time. Executive functioning and dominant-hand dexterity accounted for an additional 9.5% and 9.4%, respectively, of the total variance of 61.0%, F(5, 39) = 14.75, p < .001.

Conclusions and Relevance: Beyond age and diabetes severity, executive functioning and dominant-hand dexterity contributed to app performance, highlighting the importance of diabetes self-management. These findings may help determine suitable candidates for tablet use for self-management.

What This Article Adds: App performance is explained by the executive functioning and dexterity of older adults with Type 2 diabetes. These factors, in addition to age and diabetes severity, should be taken into consideration by occupational therapy practitioners in future mobile self-management programs.

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