Design of a trial of Internet-based self-management for diabetes
Armstrong N., Powell J., Hearnshaw H., Dale J.
We designed a study to evaluate the feasibility, acceptability and effectiveness of an Internet-based self-management system for diabetes. The Virtual Clinic allows a patient to communicate with health professionals, find information and participate in peer-to-peer discussions. Three focus groups were conducted with patients, and there were six interviews with health-care professionals and an expert workshop to gather consensus. All the people who were consulted were enthusiastic about the Virtual Clinic concept and perceived clear benefits in terms of improved self-management. The principal study design problems were: (1) choice and design of intervention; (2) outcome measures; (3) how much of the study is Internet-based; (4) data security and confidentiality. Our results suggest that a well-designed intervention study is possible. It will allow the evaluation of the feasibility, acceptability and effectiveness of the intervention in the context of the UK National Health Service.