Digital Health Science Digest – Issue 36

Posted | Posted in Digital Health Science Digest

Excitement and funding for mHealth for kids,  Apple announces new guidelines for health apps, and more in this week’s digest!

The Digital Health Science Digest is a bimonthly newsletter compiled by Duke Digital Health. We bring you the most interesting research publications, policy news, and other fun digital health science stuff.  

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Issue 36



USAID and UNICEF are funding mHealth solutions for children. Connected thermometers, earbuds, and necklaces can extend healthcare to remote regions and help communities tackle ailments like pneumonia and malaria, as well as track immunization data, in this most vulnerable of populations. 

Screening for cognitive impairments in aging populations is challenging. A new technology may help providers connect to their patients and routinely screen them for cognitive impairment using a system that records a patient’s speech. The recording is then analyzed against a large dataset of markers for cognitive impairment. Adoption of this system could be used as a first-level screening for dementia and Alzheimer’s and even evaluate the impairment of stroke victims.

View of blue mountains with reflection in lake

The final installment of our blog series, Digital Health Innovations for Medically Vulnerable Populations, is out! It’s called, “Insights and Scaling: the Cure for Pilot-itis.” We’re very lucky to have partnered with Vanessa Mason from P2Health for this series, and we hope you’ve enjoyed it!




squiggleA new study published in the British Medical Journal Open Diabetes Research & Care reports that people using the Noom app lost weight in comparable amounts to traditional DPP programs. Noom outperformed other virtual DPP programs, as well. The researchers studied 43 people with overweight or obesity and prediabetes  and noted that 84% of them completed the 24-week program. Mean weight loss was 7.5%.

A randomized trial testing a web-only versus a web + daily SMS  healthy eating intervention among college students found that those who received the web + SMS intervention significantly increased their likelihood of meeting vegetable recommendations and choosing healthier foods compared to the web-only group.

A systematic review and meta-analysis sought to evaluate the efficacy of Internet-based self-monitoring interventions in improving maternal and neonatal outcomes among perinatal women with diabetes. It found that Internet-based self-monitoring interventions significantly decreased the level of maternal glycated hemoglobin and that they decreased c-section delivery rate compared to usual care.


apple-iconApple revised its review guidelines for health apps.

Here are the new rules for any apps that collect health information (you can access all the guidelines here)

  • Apps may not use or disclose to third parties data gathered in the health, fitness, and medical research context – including from the HealthKit API, Motion and Fitness, or health-related human subject research – for advertising or other use-based data mining purposes other than improving health management, or for the purpose of health research, and then only with permission. 
  • An app can’t store protected health information in iCloud or write false or inaccurate data into HealthKit or any other mHealth app;
  • Any app collecting data must gin consent from the participant or the participant’s parent or guardian. That consent has to include “the (a) nature, purpose, and duration of the research; (b) procedures, risks, and benefits to the participant; (c) information about confidentiality and handling of data (including any sharing with third parties); (d) a point of contact for participant questions; and (e) the withdrawal process;”
  • A research app must also be approved by an independent ethics review board.

Grab bag

The Lancet is launching a new monthly, online-only, open access journal focused on public health. Specifically, the journal will be “committed to using science as an important means to improve health equity and social justice.” #yesplease 

Our wonderful partner, Piedmont Health, is hiring a Spanish speaking registered dietitian for a WIC program and a new research study at Duke Digital Health. 

Over the past few weeks we’ve been having some discussions about self-efficacy. If you’ve ever wondered about the construct, or are interested in learning how to construct your own self-efficacy scale (like a DIY for research nerds), check out this chapter by Albert Bandura from a book called Self-Efficacy Beliefs of Adolescents.

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