What's in a website? Determining evidence-based components of exercise programs for diabetes management


Introduction: Lifestyle modification, including physical activity, is effective for preventing and managing diabetes; however, evidence-based interventions are essential for effective behaviour change. Although the internet is a popular hub for health information, website quality for diabetes exercise programs remains unclear. The purposes of this research were to evaluate websites providing exercise programs regarding a) behaviour change techniques (BCTs), b) theoretical domains, and c) technical quality of resources provided. Methods: A larger systematic grey-literature internet search was conducted to identify exercise programs for diabetes and obesity management in the Okanagan. For this sub-project, program descriptions were inductively coded for (1) Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF), (2) Behaviour Change Techniques Taxonomy (BCTTv1), and (3) technical quality of the websites using the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) criteria. Results: The internet search identified 7 exercise programs for diabetes care in the Okanagan. 5/7 programs referred to the TDF and BCTTv1. 7/14 TDFs were referenced across the 5 program descriptions. TDFs mentioned in all 5 programs were behavioural regulation and social influences. 12/93 BCTs were addressed. Social support (unspecified), social support (practical), and goal setting (behaviour) were the most commonly mentioned BCTs. One website satisfied all 6 JAMA criteria, while the mean score was 4. Every website met the authorship, disclosure, and contact information criteria. Conclusion: A portion of the exercise programs utilized evidence-based interventions, however, coding specific frameworks was challenging. Future research should interview service providers to gain a more comprehensive understanding of BCTs and theoretical rationale employed in the programs.