Online Information Increases Physical Activity Among T2D Patients

Study results showed that access to online information specific to the condition can increase physical activity.

In the age of the internet, web-based strategies that help in health management - especially for patients with type 2 diabetes (T2D) - have been supported by research, but findings have shown poor engagement with these sorts of programs.

A recent study that explored ways to improve this engagement over the course of 6 months showed that the most effective way to promote exercise and physical activity is to provide them with information specific to T2D online, with or without interactive features to accompany the information.

Led by Jenni Connelly (pictured), MSc, PhD, a lecturer of physical activity at the University of Stirling, in Stirling, UK, the team of investigators sought to create a web-based program to promote physical activity among people with T2D. Additionally, Connelly and colleagues chose to explore the feasibility of such a tool to be used in remote or rural areas.

The website was designed based on ideas for effective promotion of physical from both patients and physicians and was tested with a 31-patient cohort (61% male). The patients were split into 3 groups: A control group that received written diabetes-specific advice on physical activity; an information Web group that received that information online; and an intervention Web-based group that received the online information, supplemented with interactive features such as personalized advice, goal settings, and an activity log.

Results showed that logins to the website decreased over time, with an average of 4.5 logins in the first month dropping to 3 by the 6-month mark. Both the information Web group (134.6 minutes [SD 123.9] to 154.9 minutes [SD 144.2]) and the control group (118.9 minutes [SD 103.8] to 126.1 minutes [SD 93.4]) increased their time spent in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity over the course of the study, while the intervention Web group decreased (131.9 minutes [SD 126.2] to 116.8 minutes [SD 107.4]).

Unique to this study was the reporting on the comparison between what health professionals and patients with T2D considered to be “essential tools” for increased engagement with what was used to promote activity. Patients identified 6 features as essential tools: user support, goal setting, ask the expert, physical activity tracker, what is on, and interactive challenges. However, patients only utilized the activity log book and the goal-setting features.

The findings did not support an increase in activity when education was combined with interactive elements. According to the authors, “the two interactive features that were consistently used were goal setting and the physical activity log book; of these, neither appeared to be particularly effective in increasing physical activity, in contrast to previous research, where those who used goal setting and log books had greater increases in physical activity.”