Background: Excellent diabetes care and self-management depends heavily on the flow of timely, accurate information to patients and providers. Recent developments in information technology (IT) may, therefore, hold great promise.
Objective: To determine, in a systematic review, how emerging interactive IT has been used to enhance care for adults with type 2 diabetes.
Method: Eligible studies were randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and observational studies (both before-after designs and post-intervention assessments) focused on computer-assisted interactive IT that included > or =10 adults with diabetes (> or =50% type 2) and reported in English. We searched 4 electronic databases (up to 2003) using terms for diabetes and technology, reviewed bibliographies, and handsearched Diabetes Care (January 1990 to February 2004). Two reviewers independently selected articles and worked serially on data extraction with adjudication of discrepancies by consensus.
Results: There were 26 studies (27 reports): internet (n=6; 3 RCTs), telephone (n=7; 4 RCTs), and computer-assisted integration of clinical information (n=13, 7 RCTs). The median (range) sample size was 165 (28 to 6,469 participants) for patients and 37 (15 to 67) for providers; the median duration was 6 (1 to 29) months. Ethnic minorities or underserved populations were described in only 8 studies. Six of 14 interventions demonstrated moderate to large significant declines in hemoglobin A1c levels compared with controls. Most studies reported overall positive results and found that IT-based interventions improved health care utilization, behaviors, attitudes, knowledge, and skills.
Conclusions: There is growing evidence that emerging IT may improve diabetes care. Future research should characterize benefits in the long term (>1 year), establish methods to evaluate clinical outcomes, and determine the cost-effectiveness of using IT.