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Diabetes Care. 2010 Jun;33(6):1275-81. doi: 10.2337/dc09-2153. Epub 2010 Mar 18.

Online diabetes self-management program: a randomized study.

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  • 1Stanford Patient Education Research Center, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California, USA.



We hypothesized that people with type 2 diabetes in an online diabetes self-management program, compared with usual-care control subjects, would 1) demonstrate reduced A1C at 6 and 18 months, 2) have fewer symptoms, 3) demonstrate increased exercise, and 4) have improved self-efficacy and patient activation. In addition, participants randomized to listserve reinforcement would have better 18-month outcomes than participants receiving no reinforcement.


A total of 761 participants were randomized to 1) the program, 2) the program with e-mail reinforcement, or 3) were usual-care control subjects (no treatment). This sample included 110 American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/ANs). Analyses of covariance models were used at the 6- and 18-month follow-up to compare groups.


At 6 months, A1C, patient activation, and self-efficacy were improved for program participants compared with usual care control subjects (P < 0.05). There were no changes in other health or behavioral indicators. The AI/AN program participants demonstrated improvements in health distress and activity limitation compared with usual-care control subjects. The subgroup with initial A1C >7% demonstrated stronger improvement in A1C (P = 0.01). At 18 months, self-efficacy and patient activation were improved for program participants. A1C was not measured. Reinforcement showed no improvement.


An online diabetes self-management program is acceptable for people with type 2 diabetes. Although the results were mixed they suggest 1) that the program may have beneficial effects in reducing A1C, 2) AI/AN populations can be engaged in and benefit from online interventions, and 3) our follow-up reinforcement appeared to have no value.

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