Symptoms Improved in Chronically Ill People Who Used an Online Self-Management Program

In 2001–05, researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine conducted a randomized, controlled study of the use of an Internet Chronic Disease Self-Management Program. A total of 958 people with heart disease, chronic lung disease or type 2 diabetes participated.

Key Findings

  • Four health indicators showed statistically significant improvement at one year for study participants who used the Internet program, compared with those who received only usual medical care:

    • Shortness of breath (also significantly improved at six months).
    • Distress related to the disease.
    • Fatigue.
    • Pain/physical discomfort.
  • Four health behaviors showed greater improvement at six months and at one year for users of the Internet program than for participants receiving only usual care:

    • Stretching and strengthening exercise (statistically significant at both timepoints).
    • Use of cognitive symptom management techniques (statistically significant at six months).
    • Use of techniques to improve communication with health care providers (statistically significant at six months).
    • Aerobic exercise (not statistically significant at either timepoint).
  • There were few significant differences between the group participating in the Internet intervention and participants from two similar, non-Internet, interventions using small groups in face-to-face meetings.