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Computer kiosks help patients with diabetes and low literacy skills understand their susceptibility to complications

Patients with diabetes, especially those with low literacy skills, gain a better understanding of their susceptibility to complications when they use a computer kiosk that targets diabetes education. Researchers, supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS11092), randomized 244 patients with diabetes to an intervention group and a control group. The intervention group used a computer kiosk provided in their physician's waiting room to view an audiovisual program that provided information about diabetes, psychological support, and diabetes self-management skills without extensive text or complex computer navigation. The control group had access only to quizzes on the kiosk.

After 1 year, researchers compared HbA1c (blood glucose) levels, body mass index, blood pressure, diabetes knowledge, self-efficacy, self-reported medical care, and perceived susceptibility to complications to their baseline measurements and among the two groups. There were no significant differences in changes for HbA1c, weight, blood pressure, knowledge, self-efficacy, or self-reported medical care between the intervention and control groups for the 183 patients who completed the trial. However, patients who had low health literacy skills in the intervention group showed a greater increase in perceived susceptibility to complications than patients who had low health literacy in the control group.

More details are in "Implementation and evaluation of a low-literacy diabetes education computer multimedia application," by Ben S. Gerber, M.D., Irwin G. Brodsky, M.D., M.P.H., Kimberly A. Lawless, Ph.D., and others, in the July 2005 Diabetes Care 28(7), pp. 1574-1580.

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