Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists

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Not the kind of news I wanted to hear

May 07, 2012

Well – this is just swell (please note the sarcasm in my voice).  What a way to ruin my day!!

I was just reading an excerpt from an article published in the British Medical Journal, April 2012.

The article begins by saying several previous studies done in the UK had shown that the Diabetes Education and Self Management for Ongoing and Newly Diagnosed had been "successful in giving patients a positive outlook and that patients' feelings about their disease were improved." It was noted that the participants' health had benefitted over the next year but questions remained as to the long term effects of the study.

So,  a follow-up study was done looking at 731 people out of the 824 volunteers who had originally participated. The purpose was to look at the long term benefits over the 3 years after attending a diabetes education program.

The article reports that some participants had taken a 6 hour group class taught by "2 well trained healthcare professionals." This intervention group was compared to a control group that did not attend a structured class but followed the routine advice and care of their primary physicians.

Body weight, cholesterol levels and HbA1c data was collected on both groups. The researchers also looked at the patients' history of depression, medications, perceived quality of life, lifestyle habits, beliefs about illness and the patients’ feelings about having diabetes.

Unfortunately, after 3 years there was no difference in the lab data and lifestyle results in the two groups. I was disappointed to read that those who attended the 6 hour group class did not show an improvement in A1c levels over the control group. The article did mention that those who attended the structured class seemed to have improved in their beliefs about illness. 

How sad is that??? Those of us who are CDEs or involved in educating patients with diabetes KNOW that we are making a difference.  We see those patients who have dropped their A1c levels by 1, 2 or often by 3 points. We see the patients who have lost 15-35 pounds and tell us it was because of the diabetes self management class they attended.  My patients report more energy, more stamina and just generally feel better when their glucose values improve. I know that for every successful patient there are probably 3-4 patients who were not as successful. Often it is hard to determine if patients do not return because they are doing well and think they no longer need our services or do they not return because they did not see an immediate benefit to following the diabetes improvement plan.

Unfortunately, often studies such as this are used against us. In these days of budget cuts and reductions, this is not the news I wanted to hear.

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