How’s Your Sugar? Evaluation of a Website for Aboriginal People With Diabetes

Karen Adams, Anna Liebzeit, Jennifer Browne, Petah Atkinson

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Background: Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (hereafter referred to as “Aboriginal people”) have the longest continuing culture in the world, living sustainably for at least 65,000 years on the Australian continent. In relatively recent times, colonization processes have resulted in Aboriginal people experiencing unacceptable health inequalities compared with other Australians. One disease introduced due to colonization is diabetes, the second leading cause of death for Aboriginal peoples.Objectives: The objective of this study was to describe the construction and utilization of the website “How’s Your Sugar, ” a website for Aboriginal people with type 2 diabetes (herein after referred to as diabetes). The questions for the evaluation were as follows: how was the website constructed; did target groups utilize the website; and did engagement with the website improve diabetes management.Methods: A mixed-method study design was employed. A content analysis of project documents provided information about the website construction. Data from Google analytics provided information about website utilization. To describe patterns of website sessions, percentages and numbers were calculated. A voluntary survey provided more information on website utilization and diabetes self-management. Percentage, numbers, and 95% CIs were calculated for each variable. A chi-square test was performed for Aboriginal status, age, gender, and Aboriginal diabetic status using Australian population estimates and Aboriginal diabetes rates.Results: The website development drew on Aboriginal health, social marketing, interactive health promotion frameworks, as well as evidence for diabetes self-management. The website build involved a multidisciplinary team and participation of Aboriginal diabetics, Aboriginal diabetic family members, and Aboriginal health workers. This participation allowed for inclusion of Aboriginal ways of knowing and being. The highest number of website sessions came from Australia, 98.15% (47,717/48,617) and within Australia, Victoria 50.97% (24,323/47,717). There were 129 survey respondents, and the distribution had more female, 82.9% (107/129, 95% CI 76-88), Aboriginal, 21.7% (28/129, 95% CI 16-30), and Aboriginal diabetic, 48% (13/27, 95% CI 31-66) respondents than expected with P<.001 for these three groups. Most common reasons for visits were university assignment research, 40.6% (41/101), and health workers looking for information, 20.8% (21/101). The sample size was too small to calculate diabetes self-management change.Conclusions: Inclusion of Aboriginal ways of knowing and being alongside other theoretical and evidence models in Web design is possible. Aboriginal people do utilize Web-based health promotion, and further understanding about reaching to this population would be of use. Provision of an education resource would likely have enhanced educational engagement. Web-based technologies are rapidly evolving, and these can potentially measure behavior change in engaging ways that also have benefits for the participant. A challenge for designers is inclusivity of cultural diversity for self-determination.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalJMIR Diabetes
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Apr 2017


  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • indigenous populations
  • internet

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