People with long term conditions have multiple needs, including information about their illness and the various treatment options; social support; support with making decisions; and help with achieving behaviour change, for example, changes in diet or exercise.
Computer-based programmes which combine health information with online peer support, decision support, or help with behaviour change may be one way of meeting these needs, and of helping people to achieve better health.
This review sought to find out how such computer programmes might affect people with long term conditions. The review authors found that computer-based programmes improved users’ knowledge, social support, health behaviours and clinical outcomes. It is also more likely than not that IHCAs improve users’ self-efficacy (a person’s belief in their capacity to carry out a specific action). It was not possible to determine whether computer-based programmes had any effect on emotional and economic outcomes.