Francophone online diabetes forums: A comparison
between dedicated sites and multi-community portals
Denise Silber @Health20Paris (Basil Strategies),
Mathilde Holard (Basil Strategies),
• We selected 13 sites to study: 4
dedicated sites and 9 portal sites. 2 are
from Canada; 1 from Switzerland;
10 from France.
• Dedicated forums are NFP in 4/4 cases
and certified HON in 1/4 cases.
• Portals are commercial in 8/9 cases and
certified HON in 4/9 cases.
• 9/13 forum sites have a current design style.
o NFP are 2 of 5 to modernize.
o Commercial editors are 7 of 8 to modernize.
• It is not possible to calculate the number of diabetes pages or
members on Google for most portal sites.
• 8/9 portals have a Twitter account, about health in general.
• 8/9 portals have a Facebook account, about health in general.
• 2 of 4 dedicated sites have a Twitter account, specific to
• 3 of 4 dedicated sites have a Facebook account.
It is estimated that there are 3 million French people with diabetes. 2 million are likely to use
the Internet. The purpose of the study was to see what options are available to them in
terms of diabetes forums and communities and to the extent possible see how many people
are using these forums and communities.
To find the forums, we typed into Google key words (diabetes, forum, patient communities).
We attempted, to the best of our ability, to identify: the year that the diabetes forum was
initiated, HON certification, the nature of the editor (commercial or not for profit), number
of members, number of messages, number of pages on Google for dedicated sites, date of
recent messages, presence on Facebook, presence on Twitter
• It is not easy to establish profile types for diabetes forums.
• One possibility would be the economic profile.
o There is a major economic difference between dedicated sites
and portal sites. Dedicated forum sites tend to be not for profit,
are necessarily smaller because of the narrower subject matter,
and have fewer resources than portals run by commercial
editors. However, it is difficult to demonstrate how this impacts
the quality of the forum.
o Commercial portals are likely to accept
advertising and to communicate on
Twitter and Facebook than smaller,
dedicated sites. However, dedicated
sites may also accept advertising to
cover their costs, even if they are NFP.
• Data on forum activity is easier to find on dedicated sites, but it is
difficult to compare them to the diabetes communities on portals,
where the data is often collective.
• Presence on HONCode is an interesting criterion, because
acceptance of the HONCode ensures that some basic information
about the identity of the site is available, although such
information is not complete. HONCode is more frequently present
on portals than on smaller dedicated sites.
• We recommend that all forum
producers make available clear, activity
data about the number of messages,
number of members, frequency of new
messages…which are of interest to a
new users “shopping” for a forum.
First Author contact information:
Pres. of Basil Strategies, founder Doctors 2.0 TM