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People with diabetes need to adjust their diet in order to control their blood sugar levels and avoid complications. Healthcare professionals often take dietary histories from patients to help them monitor their dietary intake and provide them with advice. Patient histories may be recorded manually by using oral-and-written methods or via a computer-assisted history taking system. Computer-assisted history taking systems can be used by healthcare professionals, or directly by patients, as in the case of, for example, pre-consultation interviews. They can be used remotely, for example via the Internet, telephone  or on-site. They draw on a range of technologies such as personal computers, personal digital assistants, mobile phones and electronic kiosks; data input can be mediated via, amongst others, keyboards, touch screens and voice-recognition software. Although computer-assisted history taking methods were first used in the 1960s we are still not certain about their effects on dietary history taking in people with diabetes. Therefore, we reviewed the literature to find studies that compare the effects of oral-and-written to those of computer-assisted dietary history taking on the quality of collected data as well as on the quality of patients’ lives. We found only one publication with 38 study participants that compared the two methods of history taking over a total of eight weeks. This study found that computer-assisted diet history taking would be as accurate as the oral-and-written method and may potentially allow doctors to spend more time with their patients to discuss as opposed to taking measurements. However, it is not possible to draw reliable conclusions of which of the two methods is more effective from a single small study. We therefore suggest that more primary research is required in this area to allow an informed decision to be made by physicians, patients and policymakers. —Cochrane Review



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