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Systematic Review of Studies Reveals that Diabetes Education Lowers A1C

Dec 09, 2015

Data in a study published today in the Patient Education & Counseling Journal demonstrates that when added to usual diabetes care, diabetes self-management education (DSME) improves blood glucose control, equating to a reduction in A1C of nearly 0.6% compared with usual care alone.

A1C is a key measure of how well blood glucose levels are being managed in the body for the past 2 -3 months. For every 1 percent reduction in A1C, the risk of developing eye, kidney, and nerve damage is reduced by 40 percent while the risk of heart attack is reduced by 14 percent.1

In addition, the impact of adding DSME is similar to the benefit of adding another medication, at a lower cost and without the risk of side effects. DSME provides even greater benefit to people with diabetes who have persistently elevated glycemic values (an A1C of greater than 9 percent).

In reviewing relevant literature, AADE identified 118 unique patient interventions with DSME; in 61.9% of the cases there were significant changes in A1C and an average absolute reduction of 0.57. A combination of group and individual engagement resulted in the largest decreases in A1C (0.88). DSME contact hours > 10 were associated with a greater proportion of interventions with significant reduction in A1C (70.3%).

“This systematic review complements previous work by AADE and others that demonstrates that DSME reduces medical costs, improves clinical outcomes, and improves patient satisfaction,” said Charles Macfarlane, Chief Executive Officer of AADE.

As a result of the findings, AADE is calling on the following communities to enact relevant change:

  1. Primary care providers need to refer patients to diabetes educators, and follow up with them to ensure they not only participate but take full advantage of the opportunity. See joint AADE/American Diabetes Association/Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics position statement that details when to refer patients to diabetes self-management education.
  2. People with diabetes and their caregivers need to be aware of diabetes education and what it can do for them.
  3. Medicare and other third party payers need to make it easier for patients to access diabetes education.

About the AADE:
AADE is a multi-disciplinary professional membership organization dedicated to improving diabetes care through education. With more than 14,000 professional members including nurses, dietitians, pharmacists, and others, AADE has a vast network of practitioners involved in the daily treatment of diabetes patients. Learn more:

1. UK Prospective Diabetes Study Group: Intensive blood-glucose control with sulphonylureas or insulin compared with conventional treatment and risk of complications in patients with type 2 diabetes (UKPDS 33). Lancet. 1998;352:837-853. IBID.

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