Variations in the Design and Use of Attention Control Groups in Type 2 Diabetes Randomized Controlled Trials: a Systematic Review

Curr Diab Rep. 2023 Sep;23(9):217-229. doi: 10.1007/s11892-023-01514-2. Epub 2023 Jun 9.


Purpose of review: In type 2 diabetes (T2D) research, the phrase "attention control group" (ACGs) has been used with varying descriptions. We aimed to systematically review the variations in the design and use of ACGs for T2D studies.

Recent findings: Twenty studies utilizing ACGs were included in the final evaluation. Control group activities had the potential to influence the primary outcome of the study in 13 of the 20 articles. Prevention of contamination across groups was not mentioned in 45% of the articles. Eighty-five percent of articles met or somewhat met the criteria for having comparable activities between the ACG and intervention arms. Wide variations in descriptions and the lack of standardization have led to an inaccurate use of the phrase "ACGs" when describing the control arm of trials, indicating a need for future research with focus on the adoption of uniform guidelines for use of ACGs in T2D RCTs.

Keywords: Attention control group; Behavioral intervention; Randomized controlled-trial; Type 2 diabetes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Control Groups
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic