Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Internet-enabled pulmonary rehabilitation and diabetes education in group settings at home: a preliminary study of patient acceptability

Tatjana M Burkow1*, Lars K Vognild2, Geir Østengen3, Elin Johnsen1, Marijke Jongsma Risberg4, Astrid Bratvold4, Tord Hagen5, Morten Brattvoll6, Trine Krogstad7 and Audhild Hjalmarsen4

Author Affiliations

1 Norwegian Centre for Integrated Care and Telemedicine, University Hospital of North Norway, P.O. Box 35, Tromsø, N-9038, Norway

2 Norut, P.O. Box 6434, Forskningsparken, Tromsø, N-9294, Norway

3 Hendig AS, Granlia 23, Fetsund, N-1900, Norway

4 Department of Pulmonary Rehab, Heart and Lung Clinic, University Hospital of North Norway, P.O. Box 100, Tromsø, N-9291, Norway

5 Medical Clinic, University Hospital of North Norway, Tromsø, Norway

6 The University's Centre for Flexible Education, University of Tromsø, Tromsø, N-9037, Norway

7 Norsk Helsenett SF, Tromsø, Norway

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BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2013, 13:33  doi:10.1186/1472-6947-13-33

Published: 5 March 2013



The prevalence of major chronic illnesses, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and diabetes, is increasing. Pulmonary rehabilitation and diabetes self-management education are important in the management of COPD and diabetes respectively. However, not everyone can participate in the programmes offered at a hospital or other central locations, for reasons such as travel and transport. Internet-enabled home-based programmes have the potential to overcome these barriers.

This study aims to assess patient acceptability of the delivery form and components of Internet-enabled programmes based on home groups for comprehensive pulmonary rehabilitation and for diabetes self-management education.


We have developed Internet-enabled home programmes for comprehensive pulmonary rehabilitation and for diabetes self-management education that include group education, group exercising (COPD only), individual consultations, educational videos and a digital health diary. Our prototype technology platform makes use of each user’s own TV at home, connected to a computer, and a remote control. We conducted a six-week home trial with 10 participants: one group with COPD and one with diabetes. The participants were interviewed using semi-structured interviews.


Both home-based programmes were well accepted by the participants. The group setting at home made it possible to share experiences and to learn from questions raised by others, as in conventional group education. In the sessions, interaction and discussion worked well, despite the structure needed for turn taking. The thematic educational videos were well accepted although they were up to 40 minutes long and their quality was below TV broadcasting standards. Taking part in group exercising at home under the guidance of a physiotherapist was also well accepted by the participants. Participants in the COPD group appreciated the social aspect of group education sessions and of exercising together, each in their own home. The digital health diary was used as background information in the individual consultations and by some participants as a self-management tool. Participant retention was high, with no dropouts. None of the participants reported that the six-week duration of the home programmes was too long.


The Internet-enabled programmes for home-based groups in pulmonary rehabilitation and diabetes education were generally well accepted by the participants. Our findings indicate that conventional programmes have the potential to be delivered in socially supportive group settings at home.

Internet; Home-based; Group-based; Pulmonary rehabilitation; Diabetes self-management education; COPD; Diabetes; Chronic diseases; Web technology; Open source software