Virtual communities established on the internet can be as effective as face-to-face counseling in managing Type 2 diabetes, according to researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and Boston University Medical School.
While the study, published online by JMIR Research Protocols, focused on African American women, the results may have a large-scale effect on the way Type 2 diabetes is managed.
Through the use of avatars representing themselves and intervention leaders, participants who met in online group meetings achieved the same success in reducing their blood glucose levels and blood pressure as those who had face-to-face counseling.
"Our initial pilot study is encouraging and we believe that virtual world technology has tremendous potential for intervening and improving glucose control and diabetes self-management behaviors," said Milagros C. Rosal, PhD, professor of medicine in the Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, in a press release. "Programs like this could make a difference, especially for individuals who are unable to attend a face-to-face program."