Background: Of the estimated 23.1 million individuals diagnosed with diabetes, approximately 5% have type 1 diabetes (T1D). It has been proposed that this number will triple by 2050. With increases in technology use and resources available, many individuals are using insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) to help manage their T1D. They are also using online resources such as social media to find more information and advice based on real-life experiences from peers. Blogs are a particular social media modality often used by people with T1D but have not been widely investigated. Objective: The purpose of this study was to assess glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) differences between blog readers and blog nonusers in a population of adults with T1D. This study also looked at differences in technology use in these two groups, as well as HbA1c differences in blog use and technology subgroups. Methods: Participants were recruited both by mail and by online T1D-themed blog postings. Respondents completed a secure online eligibility assessment and were asked questions related to their T1D, blog and internet use, and insulin pump and CGM use. Demographics were also collected. Differences between blog readers and blog nonusers were tested via chi-square and t tests. Mann-Whitney U tests, Fisher exact tests, and analyses of variance (ANOVA) were used to test for differences in self-reported HbA1c between groups and subgroups. Results: A total of 282 eligible participants completed the survey (214 blog readers, 68 blog nonusers). Average duration of diabetes was 21.2 years, 77.7% (219/282) were female, 81.2% (229/282) used an insulin pump, 66.3% (187/282) used a CGM, and 95.7% (270/282) were white. HbA1c was lower for blog readers (7.0%) than blog nonusers (7.5%), P=.006; for insulin pump users (7.0%) than multiple daily injections (7.7%), P=.001; and for CGM users (7.0%) than CGM nonusers (7.5%), P=.001. After adjusting for significant covariates, the association between blog use and HbA1c remained significant (P=.04). ANOVA modeling also demonstrated significant differences in HbA1c between blog users and nonusers among subgroups by pump use and CGM use (P<.001). Conclusions: These results suggest that reading blogs is associated with lower HbA1c values. While association does not prove causation, blog readers have the benefit of learning information from peers and having 24/7 access to a community of individuals with similar daily life struggles, where they are able to ask questions and seek advice.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Health Informatics
- Health Information Management
- Biomedical Engineering