State of the Science: A Scoping Review and Gap Analysis of Diabetes Online Communities

Michelle L. Litchman, Heather R. Walker, Ashley H. Ng, Sarah E. Wawrzynski, Sean M. Oser, Deborah A. Greenwood, Perry M. Gee, Mellanye Lackey, Tamara K. Oser

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Background: Individuals with diabetes are using online resources to engage in diabetes online communities to find diabetes-related support and information. The benefits and consequences of DOC (diabetes online community) use are unclear. This scoping review aims to map existing research focused on organic DOCs in which individuals affected by diabetes are interacting with peers. Method: A scoping review was conducted to comprehensively report and synthesize relevant literature published prior to 2018. Attention was paid to variations in study design, DOC user and platform characteristics, and potential or actual benefits and consequences. Results: Of the 14 486 titles identified, 47 articles met the inclusion criteria and were included in this scoping review. No overt definition of the DOC could be identified. Perceived or actual benefits associated with DOC use can be broadly categorized as clinical, behavioral, psychosocial and community outcomes. Perceived, potential, or actual consequences associated with DOC use were categorized as quality of information, risky behavior exploration, acute concerns, psychosocial, privacy, and inactivity. Conclusions: The results of this review strongly suggest DOC use is highly beneficial with relatively few negative consequences. DOC use is an emerging area of research and research gaps exist. Future research should seek to identify benefits and consequences to DOC use in experimental trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)466-492
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Diabetes Science and Technology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering


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