Is Online Diabetes Education For You?

Whether you are newly diagnosed or have been living with diabetes for years, meeting with a diabetes educator individually or as part of a group is one of the best things you can do to understand how to manage your diabetes (or brush up). Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t get much diabetes education, whether because of lack of insurance coverage, lack of access to a diabetes educator or to group classes, lack of time, or another obstacle.

Could an online education program help people improve their diabetes self-management? A new study looks at one such program, and a new Web site brings another such program straight to the public.

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In the new study, published in the August issue of Diabetes Care, researchers tested whether an online “blood glucose awareness training” (or “BGAT”) program could help people with Type 1 diabetes improve their self-management. The researchers enrolled 25 middle-aged adults with Type 1 diabetes; half the group began the “BGAThome” program while the other half were placed on a waiting list.

The BGAThome program consists of seven units of “active learning,” in which participants don’t just read information but also complete questionnaires, do exercises, keep diaries, and more to find out how the information presented is relevant to their diabetes and how they can apply it to their daily routines. In this study, participants completed the program in an average of 11 weeks, logging on to the program about 30 times for about 30 minutes per session.

Using several measures, the researchers found that the people who used the BGAThome program improved their self-care in a variety of ways. For instance, they were more likely to treat hypoglycemia with fast-acting carbohydrates and less likely to drive with hypoglycemia than the wait-list group. The researchers also found that people who logged on to the program more often fared better, with greater improvement in knowledge and less hypoglycemia than those who logged in less often. The researchers concluded that an Internet-based program may be a very effective way of helping people with Type 1 diabetes improve their diabetes self-care.

BGAThome is not yet available to the public, but if you are interested in participating in a future trial of the program, or would like to be contacted when the program is available for personal use, you can visit www.interest.bgathome.com to submit your contact information.

For an online diabetes education program that is currently available to the public, check out a new site from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF): www.deo.ucsf.edu. Meant to provide comprehensive online diabetes self-management education, it is based on a successful teaching program created by UCSF diabetes care professionals. The Web site consists of separate programs for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, with further subdivisions for people with Type 2 diabetes based on what kind of treatment they are using. Each section provides background information on diabetes, self-management instruction, and optional self-quizzes to review lessons. The site also has a library of resource materials, video lectures, and more.

Have you had access to in-person diabetes education sessions? Do you think an online education program might be useful to you? Share your thoughts with a comment below.

  • Steve Parker, M.D.

    This stuff is the wave of the future. I reviewed some of the UCSF info and found it very extensive. It’s free. You learn at your own pace. You can go back anytime, day or night, for a review.

    -Steve

  • CalgaryDiabetic

    Dear Tara.

    I think this is a wonderful idea. With time and medical resources being at a premium in most jurisdictions and diabetes skyrocketing this is the way to go.

    Such a site would also be good for seasoned diabetics as one could get a grasp of what is involved with insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors. Personally I can see that a pump would be good as you could use only fast acting insulin but since I tend to toss and turn in bed the likelyhood of something comming undone seams high. Plus I am not sure where you would put it, tape it to the forehead?

    Sites should allow user blogs as a form of feedback to continually improve the contents.

  • kmcmahon

    Believe it or not I was actually fortunate enough to present a first in this area of ‘online’ diabetes education back in 2007 at the 67th Annual ADA Scientific Sessions. Just calling it online probably doesn’t provide a sufficient level of clarity to describe the many variants of remote diabetes education vs face-to-face education.

    http://mygluco.com/Type2DiabetesClinicalTrialResultsADAScientificSessions

    In this study, there were 25 adults with type 2 diabetes (and also 6 adults with type 1). They received education via email and text message in response to real-time analysis of their blood sugar checks. The system looks at frequency and distribution (time of day) of checks, as well as the trends toward hypo and hyperglycemia. Based on this analysis, highly relevant educational messages were sent to the study participants.

    The result of this 1 year study was that 85% of the participants decreased their A1c by over 1 full point and they spent more time in their normal range with fewer highs and lows. We then compared this to the control group which saw an increase of nearly a half point in A1c.

    Then we overlayed the notion of patient satisfaction on top of the study data since unhappy patients would be unlikely to use something they don’t like. 95% of the participants declared that they could see themselves using this system for years on end because it was a very easy and convenient way to learn more about their own choices and the why behind cause and effect.

    When surveyed, this group also ranked the educational program higher in importance in their diabetes management than the support provided by their physician.

    Best of all, nobody has to wait for a future trial to participate in this field tested program since it went commercial in January of 2008 via our patient-focused website http://mygluco.com

  • “““““nursenanadot

    I think online diabetic education classes
    are excellent learning tool

  • Carol

    Great idea! I am type 2 and always interested in learning more. Also can see that refreshers are needed periodically. I always share new information with my Dr. He is usually familiar with new things and we discuss how the information could pertain to my particular situation. As long as the info comes from well-versed professionals I am always eager to learn the latest available info. Great idea! Thanks!

  • Bahamut

    I find online education useful but not that conducive. I need someone I can talk to or listen to rather than something “stale” like text.

  • Florian

    I think online education is great but I think it would be helpful to have it classified in some way to know whether it was basic information about diabetes for someone who was just diagnosed or more advanced information for someone who has been living with it for 10 to 20 years or more.

  • JJ

    I would definitely use online education, as long as the material presented is by an accomplished, proven, certified source.

    After 44 years of Type 1 diabetes, I know I need a refresher course, one that is more intense than the few minutes the doctor provides at a regular visit The CDE’s in my area don’t know how to handle me…they think I know a lot; I realize I’ve become complacent. I’ve even gone to one and said: “Pretend I was just diagnosed with Type 1 and start at the beginning.”

    Some of them are not up on the latest information that is available in online/print resources, don’t know how to answer questions from the inquiring person who takes time to read all these things (including your newsletter, blogs, etc.)

    But the worst thing is the time….there are so many people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes now that the few CDEs available in my town (and let’s not even start on the endos who are leaving their practices in my mid-sized city!) are booked way in advance. Seeing them on their time schdule every 6-8 weeks for a short session and then being handed a brochure is almost useless. Correction….it is useless.

    Online seminars, networking, even a live webinar geared to Type 1 would be very beneficial to me. Bring it on.

  • Judith

    Hi,
    I would love to have education for type 2 diabetes. I have taken an education course but need much refresher. The diabetes is getting worse and I need help. My doctors are not in agreement on how to treat me. Online education would be very beneficial. Also, add some safe recipes.
    Judith

  • Margo Turner

    I just finished a diabetic course and it cost me $700.00. Haveing an online course with pertinate usful information would have helped a lot. Bring it on.
    Margo

  • JPTL2

    I think it is extremely important to have any and all diabetic information online. You can never have enough info on diabetes. BRAVO!!! keep it up and add more!!!

  • AO

    I went to the http://www.interest.bgathome.com and the site was not working. Let me know when it is operational.

    Regards

    AO

  • lula

    I have been taking insulins of one sort or another sine 1977. I am a type two. my weight is on down hill up hill swing. my health care provider is a very busy doctor and is a very kind person. She cannot of course care give me medical attention each and every day. at present I am very much out of controll. My husband is deceased for two years this month, it seems like there has been one reason or another as draw backs in my life. When I am alone I seem to fall back to my old habits of over eating for comfort, maybe out of loneliness I am on the computer much of the time. If I had something to check on daily I believe I could maybe have better control. I appreccciate the articles you have sent online. please continue to do so.

  • Lorraine

    I think anything online is very helpful to me. I am a type 2 on oral meds for the past 8.5 years and am a senior and see my endo every 6 mos. I live in Canada in Quebec which is a very french province and do not have much available in English. I had never heard the term CDE until this site and have never seen one and would not know where to find one. I have seen a Dieticien but feel I know as much as she does. Just this site alone gives me great info and anything else would be a bonus for me. So go for it. I for one will be there.

  • Tara Dairman, Web Editor

    Hi Lorraine,

    It looks like you may be able to find a diabetes education program in Quebec at the Diabetes Quebec Web site, here. I hope that that helps.

  • Lee

    I am generally a print person but with my doctor always short on time, I think online sounds like a very good idea

  • Dorothy

    I am an Oldie and could use all of the infomation that can be available. It will be a blessing. Thank you kindly.

  • Faruk

    kindly give me an answer of this question
    why and how ACE Inhibotors ar used in Diabetic Nephropathy?

  • flhw

    I think it’s a great idea.! Any educational
    tool re: diabetes is important to me.
    I do not take insulin, am almost 60 and find that since I was diagnosed at age 18 so many rules for eating, exercise, etc.,that existed have been changed over the years.Home monitoring
    is a God Send.!
    My main problem is keeping my level stable.
    My Dr. just goes “eat more protein.”!!
    Would participate in it definitely.

  • Tara Dairman, Web Editor

    Hi Faruk,

    You can read more about ACE inhibitors and how they can slow diabetic nephropathy in our definition of ACE inhibitors, found here, and in our article “Protecting Your Kidneys.”

    I hope that these resources are helpful for you.

  • Sharon

    I would like online diabetes education. It would be great to learn more, receive support, and be kept up-to-date. I can use all the help I can get.

  • RBeathard

    I do have access with a diabetes educator and a diabetic group in person each month. Our discussions have provided me with numerous ideas to help keep my Type 1 Diabetes under control.

    As a retired public school teacher, I believe that learning is a lifelong process. Especially with learning about ways to help myself to live healthier and longer. So, I am very interested in joining an online group.

  • lori anne

    I took a “webinar” from dLife a couple weeks ago. It was fantastic! The speakers even answered questions after they were done talking.

  • madhu

    I am looking for a online course as a Diabetic educator. I am a Dietician by profession Could you please give me the contact number.
    regards
    madhu

  • Sherri Wilcox

    I have type 1 diabetes and I wold like to become a educater because I would like to teach other diabetics to get their blood sugars under control and how important to do that and teach them what will happen if they don’t. I have always been a type 1 diabetic ever since 1981 and had every thing happen to me because I didn’t listen to my dr. I was on dialysis for 6 yrs until I got a kidney transplant Jan 2 2006, which is working great I thank God everyday.
    That’s why I really want to become a educater can you help me? thank you

    Sherri Wilcox

  • Janet K. Oneal, D.O.

    Thank you so much for this information that I can pass on to newly diagnosed patients. Are there any on-line resources available in Spanish?

  • Syed Hafeezuddin

    Iam dibatic since 1987 type 2. but since two year I am feeling digestive problems pl let me advice

  • Eva Wash

    Hi my name is Eva Wash and I was recently diagnose with diabetes. I do not know what type. I do not have the money to pay to attend any classes for this disease. I do not have any insurance. I do not know what to eat, what not to eat, count the calories. Can you help please. Is their an on-line diabetic class that is offered for free? Sincerely Your, Eva

  • mbah lois

    i have not had any traing on diabetes. ihope to find this very expository.

  • Jon J. Spijkerman

    For several years I had problems with Hypoglycemia (low blood glucose). Twice my wife called 911 and 6 fireman came, poking my arms 6 times. It was very painful and after the first visit I had a very bad infection. The second time it was painful, After the glucose IV, my glucose was over 270 mg/dL.
    Flying British Airways we had a 4 hour tarmac delay, and going to thee bathroom I collapsed in the isle. A flight attendant asked my wife if I had problems, and she said I was a type 2 diabetic. They measured my glucose. It was 32 mg/dL. They used a small pencil shot of Glucagon, a hormone which stimulates the liver to transfer glucose from the liver to the blood. In 3 minutes was i able to get up, drink orange juice and go back to my seat. NO pain, no infection and no problems bringing my glucose under control. I called the fire department, but they said they have to follow PROTOCOL, and would not consider s change,