Kup-Sze Choi received his PhD degree in computer science and engineering from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He is currently an Associate Professor at the School of Nursing of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and the Director of the Centre for Smart Health. His research interests include virtual reality, artificial intelligence and their application in medicine and health care.
Elders’ Acceptance of Salivary Glucose Test as a Diabetes Monitoring Approach
Diabetes is a global health problem, where a majority of diabetes patients are older adults suffering from Type 2 diabetes. Regular self-monitoring of blood glucose level is essential for diabetes management. However, the conventional finger pricking approach is invasive and could lead to tissue damage, infection or mental stress. Salivary glucose test offers a non-invasive alternative. Studies have shown that glucose level in saliva is correlated with that in blood. Increase in salivary glucose level is also observed in patients with diabetes. To this end, this study evaluated the acceptance of a salivary glucose test device among elderly people.
A commercially available test device called “Kiss and Tell glucose meter” was adopted in the study. The device is a small hand-held test cassette of about 3 inches in length. It has a round collector at one end where saliva is delivered. The saliva sample was then gradually absorbed by a test strip in about 5 minutes. The strip’s color may change from white (normal) to light pink or pink to indicate that the salivary glucose level is high or very high respectively.
Subjects were recruited by convenience sampling. They were first demonstrated the usage of the device and then required to use it independently. Rinsing mouth with water was needed before the delivery of saliva sample. The subjects then responded to a 13-item 7-point Likert questionnaire designed with reference to the Technology Acceptance Model and the Theory of Planned Behavior, with “7” indicating most positive.
Thirty subjects, aged between 60 and 89 years, participated in the study. Seven were patients with diabetes. The average scores of the 13 items ranged from 5.13 to 6.23. Most subjects agreed that it was easy to use (6.20±0.61), hold the device (6.23±0.50) and deliver saliva (5.90±0.76); and that it could make diabetes monitoring easier (6.03±0.76) and increase the efficiency (5.30±0.99). They also felt pleasant to use the device (6.17±0.70). While it was generally considered a hygienic approach (5.47±1.01), some subjects worried that the process might be prone to disease spreading . Overall, they were satisfied with the salivary glucose meter (5.70±0.70).
The results suggest that salivary glucose test is acceptable to elderly and could possibly encourage routine self-monitoring of blood glucose level. Although the device under test does not provide numerical result, it is non-invasive and easy to use, thus well-suited as a regular monitoring and coarse screening approach.