Response to NPR Story on Diabetes & Social Media

Our D-Community reacts, responds.


  1. An NPR story ran on Dec. 3
  2. One quote in particular hit a nerve with many in the Diabetes Online Community...
  3. "There's no proof in diabetes that social networking is helpful," says Jason Bronner, a doctor at the University of California San Diego Medical Center. He's leading a study that will help determine whether social networking can actually help patients manage diabetes.

  4. We wrote a blog post back in September that included Bronner's research, and so we reached out to him since that quote seemed a little out of place and incomplete when compared to what he'd told us. Here was the response he provided:
  5. "The quote that was used was appropriate that to the best of my knowledge, at this time, there is no published evidence that online social networking improves outcomes in those with diabetes. That was based on my last literature review done shortly before the interview with Lauren Silverman from NPR back in October. One of the focuses she wanted to get across was big pharma influence on diabetes social networking sites, which I agree with occurs (the papers published on diabetes social networking clearly identify this occurring).

    "With that said, the hypothesis going into my study, which Lauren did not focus on for her story, is that online social networking works. In fact the design of my study is to answer the question “which type of person does it work best for” and NOT “does it work” (though the latter should come out in the analysis).  We will try and determine, based on someone’s PAM score (patient activation measure-a variable that can tell how confident someone is about their condition), how well does knowledge and attitudes change over the course of the study after 6 months of exposure to a closed diabetes social networking site (which eliminates outside influences/3rd party solicitations identified by Lauren).

    Hope this helps, and certainly hope I didn’t alienate any of your community. My goal is to publish something where there is a current gap in the medical literature."

    - Dr. Jason Bronner

  6. So, that is that. Many in the DOC also responded:
  7. A discussion started over at the Children With Diabetes forums...
  8. Others outside the DOC responded, too:
  9. And now, we need YOU to leave a comment over at the NPR story asking the reporter to follow-up the story. This is what Diabetes Advocates has written and is asking:

  10. You should know that Ms. Silverman responded right away. She was appreciative of our feedback and expressed interest in doing a follow-up piece.  This does, of course, depend on her editors' interest in publishing more about diabetes and social media.
    We encourage you to help create that interest by sharing an individual story of how diabetes social media has helped in your life. We believe that positive feedback to reporters will help foster accurate stories in the media about the reality of diabetes.

    Please comment on NPR's article with your short story of social media success.