What attracts patients with diabetes to an internet support group? A 21-month longitudinal website study

Diabet Med. 2001 Feb;18(2):154-8. doi: 10.1046/j.1464-5491.2001.00443.x.


Aims: To establish and evaluate a web-based educational and emotional resource for patients with diabetes and their family members.

Methods: A total of 47 365 user visits over a 21-month period to three internet discussion groups about diabetes were tracked for user activity, characteristics and level of satisfaction.

Results: The primary domains of users were the US (70%) and Canada (4%). Of all users, 7.55% posted messages, while 92.45% read messages posted by others. The average length of use was 15 min 5 s. Forty-four per cent posted messages to the nutrition discussion, 38% posted messages to the motivational discussion, and 18% posted messages to the family discussion. The most common postings addressed nutrition (42%), the emotional impact of diabetes (18%), managing high or low blood glucose levels (10%), and complications (8%). Respondents to the satisfaction survey were 64% female, 43% were insulin and 37% non-insulin users. Eighty-four per cent were older than 30 years, 34% had recently diagnosed diabetes and 32% had diabetes > 10 years. Forty-three per cent visited more than three times. Seventy-nine per cent of all respondents rated participation in the chat as having a positive effect on coping with diabetes.

Conclusions: A professionally moderated internet discussion group is actively visited by a broad base of patients and families, and appears to be a useful strategy for engaging patients with chronic disease for emotional support and information exchange.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Canada
  • Diabetes Mellitus / psychology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / rehabilitation*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / rehabilitation
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / rehabilitation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet* / statistics & numerical data
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Social Support*
  • United States