Primary Care News

People living with diabetes benefit from watching films online

A pilot service-evaluation study, undertaken by Swansea University, has shown that watching short health information films online helps people living with type 2 diabetes reduce their HbA1c – an established marker of diabetes control.

The report, to be published in the May issue of the international journal Primary Care Diabetes, shows a clinically significant improvement in HbA1c among those patients who watched one or more of the PocketMedic ‘Living with diabetes’ films on their computer, tablet or smartphone.

Swansea University’s Professor Jeffrey W Stephens, consultant physician at Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Boards’ Morriston Hospital and one of the report authors, said, “The result of this service evaluation is highly encouraging. The overall improvement in HbA1c indicates that film-watchers are more informed, motivated and committed to change their behaviour.”

During the study, there were eleven films in the PocketMedic ‘Living with diabetes’ series including: What is diabetes? What can I eat? Diabetes and weight, Looking after your feet, Stopping smoking, Medication and monitoring, Jill’s story, Jeff’s story and Tony and Michelle’s story.

Two Primary Care practices, within Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board and Hywel Dda University Health Board, identified 68 patients newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. During a consultation with the practice nurse, each patient was ‘prescribed’ film-watching – by way of example see – alongside standard treatments. The nurse talked through the nature of the PocketMedic films and explained that a routine blood test would be repeated after a 3-month period to monitor health outcomes.

Swansea University’s Dr Sam Rice, a consultant physician at Hywel Dda University Health Boards’ Prince Philip Hospital and one of the report authors, explained, “Digital prescriptions encourage people to access expert health information, practical advice and emotional support from the comfort of their own home. Each motivational film can be watched by patients and carers as many times as required and, crucially, at a time when the individual faces a new health challenge.”

Dr Rice added, “With patient self-management widely recognised as an increasingly important treatment it is encouraging to see that this low cost and scalable solution is reaching many more patients than would otherwise be the case.

“Through further research, we may even find that the success of the film-watching becomes a stepping-stone to facilitate and encourage people living with a chronic disease to attend more structured educational programmes.”

The bite-sized, self-management films were produced by eHealth Digital Media in partnership with the report authors, Professor Stephens and Dr Rice. Each film was reviewed by expert patients, clinicians and frontline healthcare professionals before distribution.