A novel user utility score for diabetes management using tailored mobile coaching: Secondary analysis of a randomized controlled trial

Min Kyung Lee, Da Young Lee, Hong Yup Ahn, Cheol Young Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Mobile health applications have been developed to support diabetes self-management, but their effectiveness could depend on patient engagement. Therefore, patient engagement must be examined through multifactorial tailored behavioral interventions from an individual perspective. Objective: This study aims to evaluate the usefulness of a novel user utility score (UUS) as a tool to measure patient engagement by using a mobile health application for diabetes management. Methods: We conducted a subanalysis of results from a 12-month randomized controlled trial of a tailored mobile coaching (TMC) system among insurance policyholders with type 2 diabetes. UUS was calculated as the sum of the scores for 4 major core components (range 0-8): frequency of self-monitoring blood glucose testing, dietary and exercise records, and message reading rate. We explored the association between UUS for the first 3 months and glycemic control over 12 months. In addition, we investigated the relationship of UUS with blood pressure, lipid profile, and self-report scales assessing diabetes self-management. Results: We divided 72 participants into 2 groups based on UUS for the first 3 months: UUS:0-4 (n=38) and UUS:5-8 (n=34). There was a significant between-group difference in glycated hemoglobin test (HbA1c) levels for the 12-months study period (P=.011). The HbA1c decrement at 12 months in the UUS:5-8 group was greater than that of the UUS:0-4 group [–0.92 (SD 1.24%) vs –0.33 (SD 0.80%); P=.049]. After adjusting for confounding factors, UUS was significantly associated with changes in HbA1c at 3, 6, and 12 months; the regression coefficients were –0.113 (SD 0.040; P=.006), –0.143 (SD 0.045; P=.002), and –0.136 (SD 0.052; P=.011), respectively. Change differences in other health outcomes between the 2 groups were not observed throughout a 12-month follow-up. Conclusions: UUS as a measure of patient engagement was associated with changes in HbA1c over the study period of the TMC system and could be used to predict improved glycemic control in diabetes self-management through mobile health interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere17573
JournalJMIR mHealth and uHealth
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021 Feb
Externally publishedYes


  • Diabetes management
  • Mobile applications
  • Patient engagement
  • Type 2 diabetes


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