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Effects of a Digital Diabetes Prevention Program: An RCT

PUBLICATION DATE: February 10, 2022



Introduction: In light of the need to expand the reach and access of clinically proven digital Diabetes Prevention Programs (d-DPPs) and the need for rigorous evidence of effectiveness, the purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of a digital Diabetes Prevention Program for improving weight, HbA1c, and cardiovascular risk factors among people with prediabetes compared to enhanced standard care plus waitlist control.

Study design: This was a single-blind RCT among participants at risk of developing type 2 diabetes and included 12 months of follow-up.

Setting/participants: A total of 599 volunteer patients with prediabetes were recruited primarily through electronic medical records and primary care practices.

Intervention: Participants were randomized to either a d-DPP (n=299) or a single-session small-group diabetes-prevention education class (n=300) focused on action planning for weight loss. The d-DPPs consisted of 52 weekly sessions, lifestyle coaching, virtual peer support, and behavior tracking tools.

Main outcome measures: The primary outcome was a change in HbA1c from baseline to 12 months using intent-to-treat analyses. On the basis of multiple comparisons of endpoints, 95% CIs are presented and 2-sided p<0.025 was required for statistical significance. Secondary outcomes included body weight and cardiovascular disease risk factors.

Results: Among 599 randomized participants (mean age=55.4 years, 61.4% women), 483 (80%) completed the study. The d-DPPs produced significantly greater reductions in HbA1c (0.08%, 95% CI= -0.12, -0.03) and percentage change in body weight (-5.5% vs -2.1%, p<0.001) at 12 months. A greater proportion of the d-DPPs group achieved a clinically significant weight loss ≥5% (43% vs 21%, p<0.001), and more participants shifted from prediabetes to normal HbA1c range (58% vs 48%, p=0.04). Engagement in d-DPPs was significantly related to improved HbA1c and weight loss.

Conclusions: This d-DPPs demonstrated clinical effectiveness and has significant potential for widespread dissemination and impact, particularly considering the growing demand for telemedicine in preventive healthcare services.