Department of Medicine, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine; UMass Worcester Prevention Research Center
Behavioral Disciplines and Activities | Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Preventive Medicine
BACKGROUND: Virtual world environments have the potential to increase access to diabetes self-management interventions and may lower cost.
OBJECTIVE: We tested the feasibility and comparative effectiveness of a virtual world versus a face-to-face diabetes self-management group intervention.
METHODS: We recruited African American women with type 2 diabetes to participate in an 8-week diabetes self-management program adapted from Power to Prevent, a behavior-change in-person group program for African Americans with diabetes or pre-diabetes. The program is social cognitive theory-guided, evidence-based, and culturally tailored. Participants were randomized to participate in the program via virtual world (Second Life) or face-to-face, both delivered by a single intervention team. Blinded assessors conducted in-person clinical (HbA1c), behavioral, and psychosocial measurements at baseline and 4-month follow-up. Pre-post differences within and between intervention groups were assessed using t tests and chi-square tests (two-sided and intention-to-treat analyses for all comparisons).
RESULTS: Participants (N = 89) were an average of 52 years old (SD 10), 60% had < /=high school, 82% had household incomes < US $30,000, and computer experience was variable. Overall session attendance was similar across the groups (6.8/8 sessions, P = .90). Compared to face-to-face, virtual world was slightly superior for total activity, light activity, and inactivity (P = .05, P = .07, and P = .025, respectively). HbA1c reduction was significant within face-to-face (-0.46, P = 02) but not within virtual world (-0.31, P = .19), although there were no significant between group differences in HbA1c (P = .52). In both groups, 14% fewer patients had post-intervention HbA1c > /=9% (virtual world P = .014; face-to-face P = .002), with no significant between group difference (P = .493). Compared to virtual world, face-to-face was marginally superior for reducing depression symptoms (P = .051). The virtual world intervention costs were US $1117 versus US $931 for face-to-face. CONCLUSIONS: It is feasible to deliver diabetes self-management interventions to inner city African American women via virtual worlds, and outcomes may be comparable to those of face-to-face interventions. Further effectiveness research is warranted.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01340079; http://clinicaltrials.gov/show/NCT01340079 (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6T2aSvmka).
African Americans, clinical trials, feasibility, health behavior, health disparities, minority health, randomized clinical trial, technology, type 2 diabetes, virtual systems
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Copyright ©Milagros C Rosal, Robin Heyden, Roanne Mejilla, Roberta Capelson, Karen A Chalmers, Maria Rizzo DePaoli, Chetty Veerappa, John M Wiecha. Originally published in JMIR Research Protocols (http://www.researchprotocols.org), 24.10.2014. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Research Protocols, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on http://www.researchprotocols.org, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.
DOI of Published Version
JMIR Res Protoc. 2014 Oct 24;3(4):e54. doi: 10.2196/resprot.3412. Link to article on publisher's site
JMIR research protocols
Rosal, Milagros C.; Heyden, Robin; Mejilla, Roanne; Capelson, Roberta; Chalmers, Karen A.; Rizzo DePaoli, Maria; Veerappa, Chetty; and Wiecha, John M., "A Virtual World Versus Face-to-Face Intervention Format to Promote Diabetes Self-Management Among African American Women: A Pilot Randomized Clinical Trial" (2014). Preventive and Behavioral Medicine Publications. 343.