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Chronic Illn. 2005 Jun;1(2):143-55.

Harnessing the potential of the internet to promote chronic illness self-management: diabetes as an example of how well we are doing.

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University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Colorado Health Outcomes, PO Box 6508, MS F443, Aurora, CO 80045-0508, USA.



Given the potential for the Internet to be used as a dynamic, interactive medium for providing information, changing attitudes and behaviour and enhancing social support, it is important to consider whether what is currently available online for chronic illness self-management adequately harnesses this potential. The objective of this paper was to review the content of diabetes self-management websites and to identify strengths and limitations of online diabetes self-management.


We reviewed and coded features of 87 publicly available diabetes websites hosted by governmental, health plan, commercial, pharmaceutical, and not-for-profit organizations. We assessed whether each website was using online opportunities in the areas of interactivity, theory-based interventions, social support, and evidence-based care.


The majority of sites provided information, essentially using an electronic newspaper or pamphlet format. Few sites offered interactive assessments, social support or problem-solving assistance, although there were some significant differences in these characteristics across the types of site.


Current diabetes websites fall short of their potential to help consumers. Suggestions are made for ways to improve the helpfulness and interactivity of these resources.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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