Is Online Diabetes Education For You?

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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.

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 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): 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.

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