Open letter to NPR about Diabetes Social Media piece

Dear Ms. Silverman:

Thanks for shedding light on the importance of social media for people touched by diabetes. It was certainly special to hear our friend Kerri Sparling on NPR during the drive to work this morning!

In your story, Dr. Jason Bronner from UCSD Medical Center is quoted saying: Theres no proof in diabetes that social networking is helpful. We strongly feel that this statement leaves out important dimensions that are essential to the well-being of people living with diabetes.

There is a wide range of studies that have shown the value of social media and mobile technologies in connection with diabetes management within specific patient groups: people with type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes; adolescents with type 1 diabetes; patients over 60 years old; veterans with diabetes, etc. You can read about these in the scientific journals referenced below.

This initial evidence suggests that the benefits of social media to people living with chronic illness are real, even though large scale studies have not shown precisely who benefits and how much. Dr. Bronners study, which is only tracking web metrics (number of logins, time spent on web site, number of invitations sent) and health measures (weight, blood pressure, and HbA1c levels) within a single proprietary for-profit site, may miss the benefits of participating in authentic and vibrant communities like those built by members of the Diabetes Advocates program.

Additionally, Dr. Bronners study leaves out one of the most important benefits that is consistently mentioned by people with diabetes online: connecting with others. When they connect, they no longer feel alone, and they receive much needed emotional support to help them go through the ups and downs of life with this chronic condition. And some of the end result measurements of health outcomes in diabetes, such as HbA1C, fail to capture all the preliminary steps necessary to achieve the behavior changes that result in improved, quantifiable outcomes.

This statement by Pew Internets Susannah Fox sums up well what social media does for us:

Peer-to-peer healthcare is a way for people to do what they have always done lend a hand, lend an ear, lend advice but at internet speed and at internet scale.

Other research shows patients turn to the internet for emotional support. Several of these studies about the psychosocial value of diabetes social media are also referenced below. We encourage you to consider these studies along with a multitude of testimonials (see the comments) from people who in one way or another credit the connections theyve made via social media for making a difference in their lives.

All of the undersigned feel that a follow up story would be a great way to generate more conversation around the topic youve written about here, and we are happy to serve as sources for your next piece on the DOC.

In the interest of full disclosure, we fully trust and support Kerri Sparling. She is a fellow patient who discloses her relationships with sponsors, and doesnt let those sponsorships influence the editorial direction of her blog. And she is not an exception.


Bennet Dunlap Your Diabetes May Vary
Manny Hernandez – Diabetes Hands Foundation
Mike Lawson
Kelly Close diaTribe
Adam Brown –diaTribe
Sara Moments of Wonderful
Katrina Huckabay
Kelly Kunik Diabetesaliciousness, @diabetesalish
Wendy Rose Candy Hearts
Kim Vlasnik Texting My Pancreas/You Can Do This Project
Martin Wood
Leighann Calentine D-Mom Blog
Lorraine Sisto
Aliza Chana Zaleon
Karen Graffeo Bitter-Sweet
Kelly Booth
Cara Richardson
Tony Rose Blogging Diabetes
Barb Wagstaff
Pearlsa Bintomani A Girls Reflections
Asha Agar Brown
Mike Durbin
Ginger Vieira
Bernard Farrell
Natalie A. Sera
Stacey Divone
Scott Benner
Scott Strange
Amy Tenderich
David Edelman
Barb Campbell
Alan Eastwood –
Kevin Lancaster
Sarah and Andrew Morrow
Greg Borkman –
Tamara Smith
Mila Ferrer-
Beth Snow
Meri Schuhmacher –
Cynthia Zuber
Diane Pridmore
C.C. King, Ph.D. –
Molly McElwee, R.N., C.D.E.
Lynette Richards
Victoria Cumbow
Heather Gabel
Mike Hoskins
HopeWarshaw, MMSc, RD, CDE, BC-ADM
Carey Potash –
Megan Quickle –
Maria Qadri –
Alanna Swartz
George Simmons
Thomas R. Moore
Colleen Skinner –
Jon Brilliant –
Bill Woods
Tom Karlya –
Barbara Zigah
Jaimie Hernandez –
Brad Slaight
Steven Edelman MD –
Fatima Shahzad
Kimball Dunlap, RN –
Hallie Addington –
Scott Strumello –
Melissa Lee –
Sue Rericha
Stephanie DiChiara –
Marie Smith –
Lee Ann Thill, MA, ATR-BC, LPC
Barbara Bancroft
Scott K. Johnson –
Marie Bernegger –
Hannah McDonald –
Beatriz Dominguez –
Ellen H. Ullman, MSW – @curet1diabetes
David Shein
Scott Estrin –
Nicolas Cuttriss, MD, MPH –
Doris Dickerson –
Sarah Howard –
J. Trupp –
Kate Cornell –
S. Ragan
Gerri Glass
Christopher Snider
Andrew Bell –Type One Nationmember &JDRFemployee
Cherise Shockley
Rachel Thursby
Mollie Busby –
Dr. Jennifer Dyer –
Ashley Ng
Beth Melzen
Diana Daniel RN
Paige Wagner affiliate of
Christina Ghosn
Sarah Blacksher –
Karen Anderson Hoffman
Claire M. Blum, MS Ed, RN, CDE
Landileigh Nelson
Jessica Collins
Dennis Urbaniak @Durbaniak
Tom Shearer
Ann Bartlett, CMT
David Panzirer, Trustee The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust
Khrt L. Williams –
Robert Ashley –
Renza Scibilia –
Jamie Naessens –
Alecia –
Sally Marchini –
Jayne Lehmann RN CDE –
Clare Fishman
Merle Gleeson –

(if you want to have your name added, email your name and link to:


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  • Bond, G. E., R. L. Burr, F. M. Wolf, and K. Feldt. The Effects of a Web-Based Intervention on Psychosocial Well-Being Among Adults Aged 60 and Older With Diabetes: A Randomized Trial. The Diabetes Educator 36.3 (2010): 446-56.
  • Fox, Susannah. Medicine 2.0: Peer-to-peer Healthcare. 18 Sept. 2011. Web. 10 Apr. 2012.
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