Background: Participatory Web 2.0 interventions promote collaboration to support chronic disease self-management. Growth in Web 2.0 interventions has led to the emergence of e-patient communication tools that enable older adults to (1) locate and share disease management information and (2) receive interactive healthcare advice. The evolution of older e-patients contributing to Web 2.0 health and medical forums has led to greater opportunities for achieving better chronic disease outcomes. To date, there are no review articles investigating the planning, implementation, and evaluation of Web 2.0 chronic disease self-management interventions for older adults.
Objective: To review the planning, implementation, and overall effectiveness of Web 2.0 self-management interventions for older adults (mean age ≥ 50) with one or more chronic disease(s).
Methods: A systematic literature search was conducted using six popular health science databases. The RE-AIM (Reach, Efficacy, Adoption, Implementation and Maintenance) model was used to organize findings and compute a study quality score (SQS) for 15 reviewed articles.
Results: Most interventions were adopted for delivery by multidisciplinary healthcare teams and tested among small samples of white females with diabetes. Studies indicated that Web 2.0 participants felt greater self-efficacy for managing their disease(s) and benefitted from communicating with health care providers and/or website moderators to receive feedback and social support. Participants noted asynchronous communication tools (eg, email, discussion boards) and progress tracking features (eg, graphical displays of uploaded personal data) as being particularly useful for self-management support. Despite high attrition being noted as problematic, this review suggests that greater Web 2.0 engagement may be associated with improvements in health behaviors (eg, physical activity) and health status (eg, HRQoL). However, few studies indicated statistically significant improvements in medication adherence, biological outcomes, or health care utilization. Mean SQS scores were notably low (mean=63%, SD 18%). Studies were judged to be weakest on the Maintenance dimension of RE-AIM; 13 reviewed studies (87%) did not describe any measures taken to sustain Web 2.0 effects past designated study time periods. Detailed process and impact evaluation frameworks were also missing in almost half (n=7) of the reviewed interventions.
Conclusions: There is need for a greater understanding of the costs and benefits associated with using patient-centered Web 2.0 technologies for chronic disease self-management. More research is needed to determine whether the long-term effectiveness of these programs is sustainable among larger, more diverse samples of chronically ill patients. The effective translation of new knowledge, social technologies, and engagement techniques will likely result in novel approaches for empowering, engaging, and educating older adults with chronic disease.