Harnessing the potential of the internet to promote chronic illness self-management: diabetes as an example of how well we are doing

Chronic Illn. 2005 Jun;1(2):143-55. doi: 10.1177/17423953050010021101.


Objectives: Given the potential for the Internet to be used as a dynamic, interactive medium for providing information, changing attitudes and behaviour and enhancing social support, it is important to consider whether what is currently available online for chronic illness self-management adequately harnesses this potential. The objective of this paper was to review the content of diabetes self-management websites and to identify strengths and limitations of online diabetes self-management.

Methods: We reviewed and coded features of 87 publicly available diabetes websites hosted by governmental, health plan, commercial, pharmaceutical, and not-for-profit organizations. We assessed whether each website was using online opportunities in the areas of interactivity, theory-based interventions, social support, and evidence-based care.

Results: The majority of sites provided information, essentially using an electronic newspaper or pamphlet format. Few sites offered interactive assessments, social support or problem-solving assistance, although there were some significant differences in these characteristics across the types of site.

Discussion: Current diabetes websites fall short of their potential to help consumers. Suggestions are made for ways to improve the helpfulness and interactivity of these resources.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease
  • Diabetes Mellitus / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Self Care*
  • Social Support