Smoking vs. diabetes - more in common than expected

After taking part in a tobacco research conference, Meghan Bradway realised the researchers had a lot in common.

From left: Meghan Bradway, the Norwegian Centre for E-health Research, Kathleen Garrison from Yale University, Eirik Årsand from E-health Research. Photo: Lene Lundberg

- We were grateful to get the chance to present at this conference and look outside of our usual field of diabetes self-management, says Meghan Bradway at E-health Research.

Last week, she and her colleague Eirik Årsand went to the 19th Annual European conference for the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT-E) in Oslo, Norway.

- Attending this conference was a great opportunity to see how our research approach with diabetes and personalised health technologies, such as apps, could apply to smoking cessation studies, says Meghan.

Bradway and Årsand noticed that smoking and diabetes research face many common challenges, such as how to involve patients more in the research. In fact, this was the focus of Meghan’s presentation – the benefits of designing and developing health solutions, such as apps, by working with end-users. Another presentation pointed out that recruiting patients for studies is one thing, but keeping them engaged is more difficult. All agreed that research needs to better understand the users in order to produce something that they will want to use.

Motivate to lifestyle changes

- We also found that both health conditions require sustainable lifestyle changes and collaboration between patients and healthcare providers, to identify issues and make treatment goals, together. And apps can help motivate individuals to achieve these goals, says Meghan.

Kathleen Garrison from the Department of Psychiatry at Yale University, highlighted another challenge: the difficulty of evaluating these technologies for safe and effective use in clinical practice. In response to this, she presented different research models that could help us structure our evaluations of health apps.

After the conference, Garrison was able to visit the Norwegian Centre for E-health Research in Tromsø. Meeting with the team gave her new ideas for how they can collaborate in publications.

- One idea is to write an overview about how mobile technologies are used for health, including the common health challenges in smoking cessation and diabetes self-management, says Garrison.

They all hope for future collaboration between the research groups.

- A different perspective can often hold the answers that you were looking for, says Meghan.

Link to abstracts

The abstracts for the conference can be found here. Search for Meghan Bradway, Roger Vilargada, and Kathleen Garrison to learn more about their speeches.