Conference Coverage

Top picks for online diabetes information for doctors and patients


BUSAN, SOUTH KOREA – With much misinformation online about diabetes, it is important to know which websites and other online portals offer trustworthy information for clinicians and patients with type 1 and type 2, says endocrinologist Irl B. Hirsch, MD, professor of medicine and diabetes treatment and teaching chair at the University of Washington, Seattle.

Speaking at the recent International Diabetes Federation Congress, Dr. Hirsch offered the international audience a list of sites he considers reliable and helpful, but with the caveat that “this is by no means a complete list, but these are some of my favorites.”

Session moderator David M. Maahs, MD, PhD, chief of pediatric endocrinology at Stanford (Calif.) University, said in an interview that it is now pointless to try to tell patients not to look things up online. “Everyone is going to go on the Internet, so point people in the right direction for reliable information,” he advised.

For general diabetes information, Dr. Hirsch said society websites are a good place for clinicians and patients to start. Among the best of these, he said, are:

Sites for type 1 diabetes

He pointed out in his talk that he was able to find many more reliable sites for type 1 diabetes than for type 2 diabetes. Among his top picks was the Children with Diabetes (CWD) website, which he said was “an outstanding site for type 1 diabetes for children, parents, grandparents, and also adults with type 1 diabetes.” Its content includes up-to-date information about all aspects of type 1 diabetes research, frequent polls of common questions, and discussion forums.

“It’s not just the United States. People from all over the world are looking at this site,” Dr. Hirsch noted.

For 2 decades, the CWD has sponsored the Friends for Life conference, which takes place in Orlando every July. The event is now attended by around 3,000 children and young adults with type 1 diabetes and their family members, he noted.

Dr. Maahs seconded Dr. Hirsch’s CWD recommendation. “They’ve continued to have a wonderful website, a great source of information. The conference is great. They’ll put you in touch with people in your area.”

Another good type 1 diabetes site for patients and families is that of the JDRF (formerly the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), which provides “an outstanding review of type 1 diabetes research and social action,” Dr. Hirsch commented. In addition to the main site, there are also regional JDRF sites in Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada.

Beyond Type 1 is part of a network that also includes Beyond Type 2 and Spanish-language sites for both Beyond Type 1 and Beyond Type 2. The sites feature news, stories, self-help, and resources.

The International Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Diabetes (ISPAD) has a site for clinicians and families with type 1 diabetes, according to Dr. Hirsch. It provides information about events, resources, and guidelines. A recent article, for example, addresses fasting during Ramadan or young people with diabetes.

Dr. Maahs, who is secretary general of ISPAD and edited the organization’s 2018 Clinical Practice Consensus Guidelines, noted that all of the clinical guidelines and patient education materials are free on the site, as are conference presentations from the past 3 years. A lot of the material is also available in different languages, he noted.

He also pointed out that ISPAD’s recommendations for pediatric diabetes are mostly in line with that of the ADA, but they include far more information – 25 chapters versus just one ADA chapter. Also, in 2018, ISPAD lowered its A1c target for children from 7.5% to 7.0%, which aligns with Scandinavian but not U.S. recommendations.

In addition to the type 1 diabetes sites that Dr. Hirsch listed, Dr. Maahs added the T1D Exchange online community site Glu, which he said was a good patient advocacy site.

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