A Web-Based Computer-Tailored Program to Improve Treatment Adherence in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes: Randomized Controlled Trial

S. Vluggen*, M. Candel, C. Hoving, N.C. Schaper, H. de Vries

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Adherence to core type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) treatment behaviors is suboptimal, and nonadherence is generally not limited to one treatment behavior. The internet holds promise for programs that aim to improve adherence. We developed a computer-tailored eHealth program for patients with T2DM to improve their treatment adherence, that is, adherence to both a healthy lifestyle and medical behaviors.Objective: The objective of this study is to examine the effectiveness of the eHealth program in a randomized controlled trial.Methods: Patients with T2DM were recruited by their health professionals and randomized into either the intervention group, that is, access to the eHealth program for 6 months, or a waiting-list control group. In total, 478 participants completed the baseline questionnaire, of which 234 gained access to the eHealth program. Of the 478 participants, 323 were male and 155 were female, the mean age was 60 years, and the participants had unfavorable BMI and HbA(1c) levels on average. Outcome data were collected through web-based assessments on physical activity (PA) levels, caloric intake from unhealthy snacks, and adherence to oral hypoglycemic agents (OHAs) and insulin therapy. Changes to separate behaviors were standardized and summed into a composite change score representing changes in the overall treatment adherence. Further standardization of this composite change score yielded the primary outcome, which can be interpreted as Cohen d (effect size) Standardized change scores observed in separate behaviors acted as secondary outcomes. Mixed linear regression analyses were conducted to examine the effectiveness of the intervention on overall and separate treatment behavior adherence, accommodating relevant covariates and patient nesting.Results: After the 6-month follow-up assessment, 47.4% (111/234) of participants in the intervention group and 72.5% (177/244) of participants in the control group were retained. The overall treatment adherence improved significantly in the intervention group compared with the control group, reflected by a small effect size (d=0.27; 95% CI 0.032 to 0.509; P=.03). When considering changes in separate treatment behaviors, a significant decrease was observed only in caloric intake from unhealthy snacks in comparison with the control group (d=0.36; 95% CI 0.136 to 0.584; P=.002). For adherence to PA (d=-0.14; 95% CI -0.388 to 0.109; P=.27), OHAs (d=0.27; 95% CI -0.027 to 0.457; P=.08), and insulin therapy (d=0.35; 95% CI -0.066 to 0.773; P=.10), no significant changes were observed. These results from the unadjusted analyses were comparable with the results of the adjusted analyses, the per-protocol analyses, and the sensitivity analyses.Conclusions: Our multibehavior program significantly improved the overall treatment adherence compared with the control group. To further enhance the impact of the intervention in the personal, societal, and economic areas, a wide-scale implementation of our eHealth intervention is suggested.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere18524
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2021


  • type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • treatment adherence
  • eHealth
  • computer-tailoring
  • randomized controlled trial
  • RISK


Dive into the research topics of 'A Web-Based Computer-Tailored Program to Improve Treatment Adherence in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes: Randomized Controlled Trial'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this