Online diabetes health films ‘reduce HbA1c levels’

By Editor
19th April 2017
Education, Research Self management Technology

Watching short health information films online can help people living with type 2 diabetes reduce their HbA1c levels, according to new research.

The study, which was carried out by Swansea University, has shown that there were clinically significant improvements in people’s HbA1c levels after they had viewed a series of short films called Living with Diabetes which are accessible via a computer, tablet or smartphone.

The film-watching was associated with a mean difference in HbA1c of minus 9.0mmol/mol. A strong correlation was observed between the number of films watched and the reduction in HbA1c. Significantly, no reduction in HbA1c was observed in the non-watchers.

The findings are to be published in the May issue of the international journal Primary Care Diabetes.

Swansea University’s Professor Jeffrey W Stephens, consultant physician at Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Boards’ Morriston Hospital and one of the report authors, said: “The result of this service evaluation is highly encouraging. The overall improvement in HbA1c indicates that film-watchers are more informed, motivated and committed to change their behaviour.”

‘Digital prescriptions’

The data was collected via two primary care practices, which identified 68 people who had been newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

During a consultation with their practice nurse, each person was ‘prescribed’ film-watching alongside standard treatments. Routine blood tests were carried out after a three-month period to monitor health outcomes.

Swansea University’s Dr Sam Rice, a consultant physician at Hywel Dda University Health Boards’ Prince Philip Hospital and another report author, said: “Digital prescriptions encourage people to access expert health information, practical advice and emotional support from the comfort of their own home. Each motivational film can be watched by patients and carers as many times as required and, crucially, at a time when the individual faces a new health challenge.”

The study shows that one in four (28 per cent) people watched at least one film within three months of being ‘prescribed’ the film-watching. This level of uptake compares favourably with highly-regarded and structured educational programmes; where studies show attendance can be as low as one in 100 people.

Dr Rice added” “With patient self-management widely recognised as an increasingly important treatment it is encouraging to see that this low cost and scalable solution is reaching many more patients than would otherwise be the case.

“Through further research, we may even find that the success of the film-watching becomes a stepping-stone to facilitate and encourage people living with a chronic disease to attend more structured educational programmes.”

Professor Stephens concluded: “This small-scale but real-world study suggests that the prescription of an online health information film, alongside standard treatment, can afford significant benefits to the growing number of people who live with one or more chronic condition.”

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