Background: Diabetes self-management education is a cornerstone of successful diabetes management. Various methods have been used to reach the increasing numbers of patients with diabetes, including Internet-based education. The purpose of this article is to review various delivery methods of Internet diabetes education that have been evaluated, as well as their effectiveness in improving diabetes-related outcomes.
Materials and methods: Literature was identified in the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), PubMed, Medline, EBSCO, the Cochrane Library, and the Web of Science databases through searches using the following terms: "type 2 diabetes AND internet/web based AND education" and "type 2 diabetes AND diabetes self-management education (DSME) AND web-based/internet OR technology assisted education." The search was limited to English language articles published in the last 10 years. The search yielded 111 articles; of these, 14 met criteria for inclusion in this review. Nine studies were randomized controlled trials, and study lengths varied from 2 weeks to 24 months, for a total of 2,802 participants.
Results: DSME delivered via the Internet is effective at improving measures of glycemic control and diabetes knowledge compared with usual care. In addition, results demonstrate that improved eating habits and increased attendance at clinic appointments occur after the online DSME, although engagement and usage of Internet materials waned over time. Interventions that included an element of interaction with healthcare providers were seen as attractive to participants.
Conclusions: Internet-delivered diabetes education has the added benefit of easier access for many individuals, and patients can self-pace themselves through materials. More research on the cost-benefits of Internet diabetes education and best methods to maintain patient engagement are needed, along with more studies assessing the long-term impact of Internet-delivered DSME.