LOS ANGELES — Diabetes prevention is especially important at the VHA where 1 in 4 veterans has the disease, according to a small study citing growing evidence for the use of Web-based diabetes prevention program (DPP) interventions.

The report appearing in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, suggested that those online programs can be as effective and often are more feasible than in-person interventions.1

The primary objective was to qualitatively explore women veterans’ early experiences with a Web-based DPP intervention, according to the study team led by VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System researchers, with the secondary objective to estimate weight loss, participation, and engagement to provide context for their qualitative findings.

To do that, the investigators conducted and analyzed semi-structured interviews as well as gathered data on weight change, participation, and engagement for 17 women veterans with prediabetes from a Midwest VA Women’s Health Clinic; 15 completed interviews.

Results indicated that participants perceived the DPP program as an appealing way of initiating lifestyle changes and made them feel accountable in achieving their daily goals. They also considered the online program to be convenient because it could be accessed at any time, and many found that it integrated well into daily life.

Some of the participants didn’t like the logging aspect, however, and some respondents found the intervention to be too impersonal.

The study noted that participants logged in a mean 76 times, posted a mean 46 group messages and sent a mean 20.5 private messages to the health coach over 16 weeks. Participants lost 5.24% of baseline weight, and 82% of participants completed at least nine of 16 core modules.

“Women veterans’ early experiences with a Web-based DPP intervention were generally positive,” study authors pointed out. “Accountability and convenience were key enabling factors for participation and engagement. A Web-based DPP intervention appears to be a promising means of translating the DPP for women veterans with prediabetes.”

1.    Moin T, Ertl K, Schneider J, Vasti E, Makki F, Richardson C, Havens K,Damschroder L. Women veterans’ experience with a web-based diabetes prevention program: a qualitative study to inform future practice. J Med Internet Res. 2015 May 25;17(5):e127. doi: 10.2196/jmir.4332. PubMed PMID: 26006697; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4468391.