Older Diabetes Patients Improve with Group Therapy
Researchers in Massachusetts recently examined whether older adults with diabetes (ages 60-75 years) could benefit from group therapy self-management interventions as much as younger adults with diabetes who underwent the same group interventions.
The results of the study were published online in January 2013 in Diabetes Care. The article is titled“Do older adults aged 60 to 75 years benefit from diabetes behavioral interventions?”
To conduct the study, researchers divided up 71 community-dwelling older adults and 151 younger adults into 3 groups: those receiving one-to-one education, those in an attention control group, and those in a structured behavioral group. Researchers examined each patient’s A1c level as well as a variety of self-care and psychosocial factors, and recorded the results at baseline, 3 months, 6 months, and 12 months post-intervention.
The psychosocial factors assessed included:
- coping styles
- diabetes distress
- self-care frustration
- quality of life
The self-care factors assessed included:
- frequency of self-care
- blood glucose checks
- pedometer readings (every 3 days)
Researchers found that, when comparing the 2 age groups, both sets of diabetes patients had improved A1c over time, including those patients receiving one-on-one education. However, those patients in the group settings showed more improvement and maintained those improvements 12 months post-intervention (older structured behavioral group change in A1c -0.72 ± 1.4%, older control group -0.65 ± 0.9%, younger behavioral group -0.55 ± 0.1.2%, younger control group -0.43 ± 0.1.7%).
In addition to improved A1c levels, those participants (both younger and older adults) who were in the group environments also demonstrated improved emotional coping, quality of life, depressive symptoms, frequency of self-care, distress, frustration with self-care, frequency of glucose checks, and self-efficacy.
Investigators have demonstrated that older community-dwelling diabetes patients can really change their ways and improve their glycemic control through participating in group diabetes behavioral interventions. Clinicians should consider group self-management interventions as treatment for their older diabetes patients.