Self-managed online interventions ineffective for diabetics

Self-managed online interventions, though helpful in some types of health intercessions, have proven to be ineffective for people with diabetes, according to a new review published in The Cochrane Library.

Using data from 16 trials involving 3,578 people with type 2 diabetes who used cell phones or computers as part of the self-management of their diabetes for between one and two months, the researchers found the interventions safe, but with limited positive effects. What's more, any benefits realized faded after six months, garnering no evidence that the interventions improved depression, quality of life or weight for people with type 2 diabetes.

"Our review shows that although popular, computer-based diabetes self-management interventions currently have limited evidence supporting their use," lead researcher, Kingshuk Pal of the Research Department of Primary Care and Population Health at UCL in London, said in an announcement. "There are also few studies looking at cost-effectiveness or long-term impact on patient health."

Some of the computer-based interventions improved knowledge and understanding of diabetes, but didn't translate into helpful behaviors, according to the researchers.

"Effective self-management is a complex task that may require changes to many aspects of people's lives," Pal said. "Any intervention to help that process needs to support sustained behavior change in different areas like eating habits, physical activity or taking medication regularly and provide emotional support.

"We did not see any convincing evidence for long-term change like this in the interventions we looked at."

Online programs can be effective for positive interventions for other ailments such as depression and anxiety. Research published in the journal Plos One, for instance, this week highlighted the use of an online program that resulted in vast improvement in the overall health of its users.

Additionally, an Internet-based program that gave feedback to smokers trying to quit proved cost-effective compared to usual care, recent research published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found. However, the cost-effectiveness didn't result in better quality of life or outcomes, the researchers said.

To learn more:
- read the study
- read the announcement from The Cochrane Library

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