A Virtual World Versus Face-to-Face Intervention Format to Promote Diabetes Self-Management Among African American Women: A Pilot Randomized Clinical Trial

Milagros C Rosal, Robin Heyden, Roanne Mejilla, Roberta Capelson, Karen A Chalmers, Maria Rizzo DePaoli, Chetty Veerappa, John M Wiecha
JMIR Research Protocols 2014 October 24, 3 (4): e54

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: NCT01340079; (Archived by WebCite at

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"