A dose-response relationship
Notably, app use showed a clear dose-response pattern. During 180 days of app availability, people who used the app fewer than 10 times had an average reduction from baseline in their A1c of less than 0.1 percentage points. Among those who used the app 10-20 times (a subgroup with roughly one-third of the people randomized to app use) average A1c reduction increased to about 0.4 percentage points, and among those who used the app more than 20 times, also one-third of the intervention group, the average A1c reduction from baseline was about 0.6 percentage points.
“It would be interesting to learn more about the adults who engaged with the app” and had a higher use rate “to provide more targeted care” with the app to people who match the profiles of those who were more likely to use the app during the trial, said Dr. Shapira.
Dr. Bonaca, a cardiologist and vascular medicine specialist and executive director of CPC Clinical Research and CPC Community Health, an academic research organization created by and affiliated with the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, Colo., reported several other 180-day outcomes in the BT-001 trial:
- A 33% relative decrease in the percentage of subjects who needed during the study an additional antidiabetes medication or increased dosages of their baseline medications, which occurred at a rate of 21% among the controls and 14% among those who used the app.
- An average weight loss from baseline of 5.5 pounds using the app compared with an average 1.9 pound decrease among controls, a significant difference.
- A decline in average systolic blood pressure of 4.7 mm Hg with app use compared with a 1.8 mm Hg average decline among the controls, a significant difference.
- Significant incremental average improvements in a self-reported Short Form-12 physical component score with the app compared with controls, and increased average improvement in the PHQ9 self-reported measure of depression in app users compared with controls.
- Significantly fewer treatment-emergent adverse effects, and significantly fewer serious treatment-emergent adverse effects among the app users compared with the controls.
‘Ready for clinical use’
Based on these findings, “in my view the app is ready for [routine] clinical use,” declared Judith Hsia, MD, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at the University of Colorado in Aurora, and with Dr. Bonaca a co-lead investigator for the study.
The BT-001 app can serve as “an addition to the toolkit of diabetes treatments,” Dr. Hsia said in an interview. One key advantage of the app is that, once approved, it could be available to many more people with type 2 diabetes than would be able to receive CBT directly from a therapist. Another potential plus for the CBT app is that “the effects should be durable in contrast to medications,” which must be taken on an ongoing basis to maintain effectiveness. In addition, the safety profile “is favorable compared with drug therapies, which should appeal to health care providers,” said Dr. Hsia, chief science officer for CPC Clinical Research.
However, Dr. Shapira cited the issue that therapeutic apps “raise privacy and licensing liability concerns.”
The BT-001 trial was sponsored by Better Therapeutics, the company developing the app. CPC Clinical Research receives research and consulting funding from numerous companies. Dr. Bonaca has been a consultant to Audentes, and is a stockholder of Medtronic and Pfizer. Dr. Shapira had no disclosures. Dr. Hsia is a stockholder of AstraZeneca.