Background: Using the Internet may prove useful in providing nutrition counselling and social support for patients with chronic diseases.
Objective: We evaluated the impact of Web-based nutrition counselling and social support on social support measures, anthropometry, blood pressure, and serum cholesterol in patients at increased cardiovascular risk.
Methods: We conducted a randomized controlled trial among patients with increased cardiovascular risk in Canadian family practices. During 8 months, patients in the intervention group and control groups received usual care. Patients in the intervention group also had access to a Web-based nutrition counselling and social support tool (Heartweb). Site use during the study was monitored. We measured social support, body mass index, waist/hip ratio, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels at baseline and at 4 and 8 months to assess the effectiveness of the intervention.
Results: We randomized 146 patients into the Web-based intervention (n=73) or the control group (n=73). Within the Web-based intervention group, Heartweb was used by only 33% (24/73) of patients, with users being significantly younger than nonusers (P=.03). There were no statistically significant differences between the intervention group and the control group in changes in social support, anthropometry, blood pressure, and serum cholesterol levels.
Conclusions: Uptake of the Web-based intervention was low. This study showed no favourable effects of a Web-based nutrition counselling and social support intervention on social support, anthropometry, blood pressure, and serum cholesterol. Improvements in reach and frequency of site use are needed to increase the effectiveness of Web-based interventions.