Background: As part of the design process of a low-cost minimal-contact diabetes prevention intervention, we issued a blood glucose meter to people with impaired glucose regulation (who are at high risk of type 2 diabetes). We conducted a feasibility study to assess the acceptability of this intervention component and whether and how recipients engaged with it.
Methods: A blood glucose meter was given to 19 people identified through primary care, who were asked to use the meter in an exploratory way during a 4-week trial period, to try to understand the effect of different foods on the body. They were advised that they could test as often or as little as they liked and were also asked to keep a food/exercise diary for at least 1 week. They were interviewed about their experiences afterwards.
Results: There was a high level of engagement with testing, with the total number of tests recorded ranging from 11 to 114 (median 74) among 18 participants. Fifteen participants tested almost every day during the 4-week period. The cognitive engagement was more limited. All participants commented on their own results, and most were able to relate high or low results to foods eaten and exercise taken, usually in response to prompting. However, there was limited thought or understanding beyond this in terms of longer-term patterns of diet and exercise, and testing was routine rather than experimental. Some participants were confused by conflicting or unexpected results. A few minor problems were reported by participants, such as soreness, inconvenience, and difficulty in getting blood, but never enough to discontinue testing. Several participants stated that the meter was a useful aid as a reminder that they were at high risk of diabetes and served as a prompt that needed to make and/or maintain behaviour changes.
Conclusions: The study suggests that blood glucose monitoring is acceptable to people with impaired glucose regulation and that they would engage with it as part of an intervention to improve their diet. The study has also uncovered potential mechanisms of action for behaviour change.