Diabetes is a condition that causes high blood glucose levels. These high levels can damage blood vessels, major organs, and nerves. This damage can lead to kidney failure , heart attacks , amputation, and blindness. Keeping blood glucose levels in recommended range can significantly reduce the risk for these illnesses. Blood glucose control can be accomplished with a combination of lifestyle habits like diet and exercise, medication, and self-monitoring of blood glucose levels. These are all important components of therapy.
The Center for Health Studies in Seattle reviewed the benefits of a web-based support system for people that needed to make diabetes management changes. The study, published in Diabetes Care , found that a web-based program may help people lower their blood glucose levels.
About the Study
- Usual care group—one consult given at the beginning of the program with information about making changes
- Web-based care group—regular online interactions with providers or nurses, educational information, and interactive diary and glucose reading feedback
The participants were followed for a 12-month period. At the end of the review, participants in the web-based group lowered their average glucose levels more than the usual care group did.
This was a small study. Usually, the larger the study, the more accurate the results. The study was also not able to blind the participants because of the study format. This may allow biases in care or in participants' perceptions. This can also affect the size or accuracy of the results.
How Does This Affect You?
Several studies have shown that it can be difficult for people to adopt long-term lifestyle changes. Having a support system is often important in making effective changes. A tracking and recording program is also known to be effective. While there were some problems with the study structure it does appear that the web-based programs can offer effective support. A web-based program should be considered for anyone that needs to make lifestyle changes. If you are struggling with certain lifestyle changes, your doctor may be able to refer you to resources. Look for programs through trusted organizations such as the American Diabetes Association.
- Reviewer: Larissa J. Lucas, MD
- Review Date: 03/2009 -