Internet diabetes-prevention program successful, well received

June 8, 2009

Patients enrolled in a one-year Internet diabetes-prevention program achieved more weight loss and completed more educational sessions with a diabetes coach than did their counterparts involved in traditional, group diabetes-prevention programs.

Patients enrolled in a one-year Internet diabetes-prevention program achievedmore weight loss and completed more educational sessions with a diabetes coach thandid their counterparts involved in traditional, group diabetes-preventionprograms.

Internet-based diabetes-prevention programs may be the way diabetes educationshould be headed, says Kathleen M. McTigue, MD, Department of Medicine, Universityof Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA.

Dr. McTigue presented results of a pilot study using the Diabetes PreventionProgram’s Virtual Lifestyle Management™ (VLM) Internet program, with 50patients referred to the program by primary care physicians. The VLM programincluded educational sessions and chat features with a diabetes education coach, aswell as the capability for patients to self-report and track their progress onmeasures such as weight, nutrition, and exercise.

Participants were all overweight and had one or more other cardiovascular diseaserisk factors at baseline (average, 1.75). Average patient age was 59.4 years (range,26 to 78 years). "We weren’t sure we would get many older adults for an Internetprogram, but the 78-year-old rated it highly," Dr. McTigue says.

Overall, there was a login rate of 55.6 per participant per year, and 50% ofparticipants logged in every week. In addition, 40% of participants entered personalprogress data for at least 40 weeks during the program, and 42% completed all of the 16diabetes-education lessons with a diabetes coach that were offered.

After patient participation for one year, mean weight loss was 4.79 kg, and meanreduction in diastolic blood pressure was 7 mmHg. "This is more than is seen withtraditional lifestyle-modification programs," says Dr. McTigue.

Patient satisfaction with the program was also high, with 80% of participantsrating it as "excellent" or "good." Participants said the most useful feature ofthe Internet-based program was the ability to self-monitor progress.

"Virtual lifestyle management may also lower staffing needs, thereby makinglifestyle-modification programs more cost effective," Dr. McTigue says.