Online Communities - Do They Help?

Do communities help?
Do communities help?

Recent diabetes news indicates that online communities could genuinely help people with diabetes to support each other and learn more about their condition.

Whatever the type of community, researchers believe that patients are likely to trust their peers.

Developing communities

In the last few years, communities have evolved to include Facebook, Twitter and more advanced forums where hundreds of thousands of people with diabetes meet daily to discuss and learn.

The Forum, which is the largest online diabetes community in the UK, has been online for several years.

The Diabetes Forum doesn’t have any doctrine or agenda; it is simply a neutral discussion space for people with diabetes to communicate with each other.

By observing our forum and our Facebook and Twitter pages, it is obvious that an online community has a strong role to play when it comes to sharing information and personal experiences, getting reinforcement and support, and meeting people in a similar situation.

Consulting a professional

However, although user-generated health content such as blogs, social media and forums is a big part of the future of healthcare – it is worth bearing some guidelines. Never take anything written online as necessarily true – always check with your healthcare professional. Debate can develop into full-blown online arguments and although moderation teams should help to prevent this, forums are not always harmonious.

Safety first

Always use forums safely – never give out contact details or agree to meet offline. It is worth remembering that not everyone is what they seem. That said, through using forums in a safe and responsible manner a great community can be reached.

What does the community have to say?

  • Sugarless Sue: The help and support on this forum is excellent between members and many have benefited from the experiences, good or bad, of other members and have become confident enough in their own diabetic management to then advise others. In this way we help self empower many members to cope and manage their own diabetes and to be able to ask their HCP's relevant questions about their diabetes.
  • Doczoc: Here's to the biggest and best diabetes forum! I wonder how many lives have been changed for the better by being a member on here? I know mine has. It's literally saved my life. Nice work everyone.
  • Debloubed: The best part? Reading that someone has got the diabetes help they need off the back of advice from this forum. Can't ask for much more than that.
  • Carolynjw: This forum has definitely saved my life in just a few months. I was just about suicidal back in November, and have turned around my diet, decreased my insulin, dropped my Hba1c by 1.6 - all in a few months. Thanks everyone on here...
  • Cugila: Following on from what has been said previously I think that this Forum in particular has to be the best, most open, honest and balanced place you are ever likely to find on the net. A fabulous diabetes resource. There are all manner of opinions given on here, some factual, some anecdotal. All are worthy of inclusion and of consideration. You can ignore things, take things on board, or just ask questions to clarify what has been said.

Join us!

Your Comments
An enormous help. I would still be following that daft 'eat lots of starch' advice until I started testing my BG levels and reduced carbs drastically. It is great to hear that I wasn't alone- that there are thousands of people out there who have had the gumption to use common sense and cut back on the very thing that diabetics can't deal with. By the way, can anybody explain to me how, when for thirty years people in the UK and USA have been obeying the advice to cut down on fats (and eat more carbs) The number of obese people, stable thirty years ago, has been going up year by year ever since? When will the penny drop that that advice is plainly doing no good...and it hasn't even reduced the incidence of Cardiovascular disease as it was confidently expected to do. Most researchers now have serious doubts about the standard doctrine, but it's career-damaging for them to publicly express them.
Posted by findave, perth, scotland on Friday, April 09, 2010
I have been helped enormously by the online forums. Thanks to advice I found there I have lost the weight I put on 34 years ago when I had my last child. My diabetes is well controlled with diet and exercise and I have a new wardrobe! I cut my carb intake and was encouraged and inspired by different posters on the sites. Recently, friends have been diagnosed with type 2 and they are also doing well. Even friends without diabetes want to know the secret of the 'healthy new me'. It's been a year now but I realise it's for life. Thanks to many people who kept me going when it got tough.
Posted by maisiesgranny, crawley, west sussex on Friday, April 09, 2010
On March 15 this year, I was informed by my eye doctor that my eyes are deteriorating due to my diabetes and I need to take charge of my diet and health, or else I will go blind. I was desperate for support and that is where I found it through this website. I am glad I found friends through the board forum and received encouragement from one of them who replied my email. Thank you for sending me a lifeline. I truly appreciate this website. Jammie from Malaysia
Posted by Yellowhippo, Malaysia on Friday, April 09, 2010
All the useful support and guidance I have received regarding my diabetes care has come from my peers on the Forum. If I had listened to the local professionals I would not be achieving good results by watching my diet and monitoring bg levels. When I have been given yet more conflicting advice by the 'experts', my on-line peers have kept me on track. It's great to get advice from others with diabetes, rather than those who have read about it but forget that 'one size' does not fit all.
Posted by captainlynne, Brixham, Devon| on Thursday, April 08, 2010
This forum is fantastic in giving support and helpful information. I have been an insulin dependant diabetic for over 6 years and was never told about fake hypos until I joined this forum
Posted by Senga, Airdrie Scotland on Thursday, April 08, 2010
As fairly recently diagnosed diabetic l have found the forum invaluable. l frequently go on just to read the boards and gain information and often find the answer l have been looking for , otherwise l can post a query and get brillant feedback, information, guidance and support. I for one would be lost without the forum and that is form someone who has a supportive GP and nurse.
Posted by scarletthollie5, Kent on Thursday, April 08, 2010
I am a diabetic on insulin for the last 25 years and prior to that was on tablets. In the last few years I had my cataracts operation performed. They were successful and my vision was too good to explain. After a year or so I started feeling blurriness in my eyes I came on this forum and asked for opinion or suggestions. I got an answer from a medical profession and it was great. I was on lisonopril ACE inhibitors and was said that it might be giving blurriness in my eyes and asked GP to change GP is a great man he changed it to another ACE inhibitor I did not see much change but again Forum helped me I was suggested that I should increase the dose of my injection I did that and today I feel nothing wrong and my vision is superb. It might help someone in my situation and best advice is always from the GP. Best of luck
Posted by makram1, Ilford on Thursday, April 08, 2010
The Forum has helped improve my understanding of diabetes and test results, adopt an improved diet with better control of bs and pointed to other online information which has proved most useful.
Posted by Candyfloss, London on Thursday, April 08, 2010
I have found the forums most helpful and will continue to participate in the same. Keep up the good work, friends.
Posted by Garfield, Lancashire, England on Thursday, April 08, 2010
Diabetes communities may indeed help. But they can also be dangerous unless there is a qualified person to monitor what is said so that any false or semi-false advice is commented on and queried. Some advice I have seen on our forums certainly is dubious, to say the least.
Posted by Dave Burdett, Hampshire on Thursday, April 08, 2010
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