Baylor Researchers Awarded Grant to Develop Diabetes Mobile Health App for Use in India

October 22, 2018

Media Contact: Eric M. Eckert, 254-710-1964
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WACO, Texas (Oct. 22, 2018) – An interdisciplinary team of Baylor University researchers – from nursing and business information systems to art and video game design – and physicians from Bangalore Baptist Hospital in Bengaluru, India, were awarded a 21st Century Knowledge Initiative Grant from the U.S. India Education Foundation (USIEF) to develop a diabetes mobile health app to boost awareness and educate those in India who are most at risk for diabetes.

The team is led by Shelby Garner, Ph.D., R.N., assistant professor in Baylor’s Louise Herrington School of Nursing, who has worked in India over the past six years to develop technological health resources. She cited statistics from the World Health Organization that show life expectancy in India is among the lowest in the South East Asian Region and is largely attributed to growing rates of non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes.

Contextualized health education is one key to help raise awareness in the country, she said.

“There is a need for culturally appropriate health education materials in India,” Garner said. “Our early research showed that technology, such as smartphones and internet accessibility, are widely available in India among health providers, but most technological educational resources were developed in the West and do not effectively translate to the Indian context.”

Physicians from Bangalore Baptist Hospital will provide cultural context and help identify important medical content to be included in the app.

“Our diabetes app will feature an interactive 3D animated video with gaming features to help educate patients at risk for diabetes,” Garner said. “Answers to questions addressed in the app include: What is diabetes? What happens if I have diabetes? How do I prevent and treat diabetes? What do I do now?”

The app also serves as a data collection tool to help researchers determine if the video is improving participants’ knowledge on diabetes.

Community health workers employed by Bangalore Baptist Hospital will use the app as they visit with people in rural villages and urban slums during door-to-door health education visits, Garner said. The research team will compare the app’s effectiveness with standard health educational resources previously used.

Garner said the USIEF grant was awarded, in large part, due to the success of an earlier project that led to the development of a hypertension app.

“Earlier this year, we tested the hypertension app among 346 people in one of the largest slums in Bengaluru, India, and in several rural villages surrounding Bengaluru,” she said. “The app was significantly effective in improving knowledge among participants. We used these results to justify the need to design more resources and applied for funding from the U.S. India Education Foundation.”

From previous experience developing and employing the hypertension app, Garner said she knew this new project would require input from a variety of perspectives.

“I’ve realized some of the ‘big picture’ challenges in health education, and it will take a team of experts to make this happen,” she said.

Team members are:

• Shelby Garner, Ph.D., R.N., assistant professor in Baylor’s Louise Herrington School of Nursing
• Dr. Carol Elizabeth George, community health physician, Bangalore Baptist Hospital
• Dr. Gift Norman, community health physician, Bangalore Baptist Hospital
• Dr. Kingsly Victor, internal medicine physician, Bangalore Baptist Hospital
• Hope Koch, Ph.D., associate professor of business information systems, Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business
• Phil Young, Ph.D., assistant clinical professor of business information systems, Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business
• Julia Hitchcock, M.F.A., associate professor of art, Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences
• Matthew Fendt, Ph.D., lecturer in computer science, Baylor’s School of Engineering and Computer Science

The grant also will fund exchange teams of researchers and faculty from India to come to the U.S. and for Baylor team members to go to India to collaborate on the research for the next two years. The first team from India is due in late October.

“We are really excited about the work we will do together with our Indian partners over the next two years,” Garner said.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.


The Baylor University Louise Herrington School of Nursing (LHSON) located in Dallas was established in 1909 as a diploma program within Baylor Hospital in Dallas, which is now Baylor University Medical Center, and in 1950 became one of the six degree-granting schools of Baylor University. The first Baccalaureate degrees were granted in 1950 establishing the school among the earliest baccalaureate nursing programs in the United States. In 1999, the School was renamed the Baylor University Louise Herrington School of Nursing after Louise Herrington Ornelas, a 1992 Baylor Alumna Honoris Causa, who made an endowment gift to the school. Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing, LHSON offers Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) degrees through a traditional program and FastBacc (one-year accelerated program). LHSON also offers an online Master of Science in Nursing (M.S.N.) Leadership and Innovation program, as well as Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.) programs to include Family Nurse Practitioner (F.N.P.), Nurse-Midwife (C.N.M.) and Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (N.N.P.). LHSON was featured in U.S. News & World Report for the 2018 Best Graduate Schools ranking the D.N.P.program in the top 50 U.S.nursing schools at No. 46. The Baylor M.S.N.program is ranked at No. 56 and the Nurse Midwifery Program ranked No. 10. Baylor’s M.S.N. in Nursing Leadership and Innovation Online Program ranked No. 39 in the 2018U.S. News Best Online Graduate Programs. For more information,