CCE Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Information Systems (DISS)


College of Engineering and Computing


Maxine S. Cohen

Committee Member

James R. Templeton

Committee Member

Eric S. Ackerman


Mobile applications usability, Seniors, Information science


Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. With the population rapidly aging, it is expected that 1 out of 3 Americans will have diabetes by 2050. Mobile devices and mobile applications have the potential to contribute to diabetes self-care by allowing users to manage their diabetes by keeping track of their blood glucose levels. Usability is important for systems that help people self-manage conditions such as diabetes. Age and diabetes-related cognitive decline might intensify the impact of usability issues for the users who need these mobile applications the most. As highlighted by usability researchers, the context of use (i.e. environment, user, task, and technology) has a significant impact on usability. The environment (lighting, temperature, audio and visual distractions, etc.) is of special interest to the mobile usability arena since in the case of mobile devices, is always changing.

This dissertation aims to support the claim that context and more specifically environmental distraction such as semantic auditory distractions impact the usability of mobile applications. In doing so, it attempts to answer the following research questions: 1) Does semantic auditory distractions reduce the effectiveness of a blood glucose tracking mobile application? 2) Does semantic auditory distractions reduce the efficiency of a blood glucose tracking mobile application? 3) Does semantic auditory distractions reduce the user satisfaction of a blood glucose tracking mobile application?

To answer the study research questions, a true experimental design was performed involving 30 adults with type 2 diabetes. Participants were paired based on their age and experience with smartphones and randomly assigned to the control (no semantic auditory distractions) or experimental (semantic auditory distractions) group. Research questions were tested using the general linear model. The results of this study confirmed that semantic auditory distractions have a significant effect on efficiency and effectiveness, and hence they need to be taken into account when evaluating mobile usability. This study also showed that semantic auditory distractions have no significant effect on user satisfaction.

This dissertation enhances the current knowledge about the impact of semantic auditory distractions on the usability of mobile applications within the diabetic senior population.