In order to control the rising cost of treating type 2 diabetes and improve the health of individuals with the condition, experts say diabetics need to be prepared to care for themselves. A trio of studies published in a recent issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine indicates that this can be an effective method.
The first study was conducted by researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. A total of 222 diabetics with poorly controlled blood sugar were divided into three groups. One set received cognitive behavioral therapy paired with disease-specific education designed at improving their lifestyle habits. The two remaining groups received either group or individuals educational sessions.
The results showed that regardless of the group participants were assigned to, they were likely to improve their blood sugar control. However, those put in the section that received cognitive behavioral therapy on top of education experienced the greatest improvements.
In addition to improving glucose management, these individuals improved their overall quality of life and began taking more blood sugar readings each day.
In the second study, a team of investigators from the HealthPartners Research Foundation examined the health of 623 adults with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes. Each participant was provided with either standard care or given the opportunity to participate in an educational class in which they were taught strategies for improving their disease management.
The results showed that participants in the education group made a 51 percent improvement in their average blood sugar control, compared to those in the standard treatment group.
"Among patients with type 2 diabetes of relatively long duration and HbA1c levels of 7 percent or higher, short-term glucose control improved more in those receiving individual diabetes education than in those receiving group diabetes education or assigned to no education," the researchers wrote in their report.
The final study involved an analysis of more than 200 economically disadvantaged individuals with type 2 diabetes. The majority of participants were either African American or Latino and had an average income of less than $15,000.
All participants received either a video containing information about behavioral modifications that can lead to improved blood sugar control and five sessions of telephone counseling or a brochure about diabetes management.
Results from the trial indicated that those who received the more detailed and personal educational information made the most significant improvements in their blood sugar control. Still those who only received the brochure did make some gains in disease management.
"More intensive and therefore more expensive interventions may be a worthwhile investment to lower the high costs associated with poorly managed diabetes in the long term; however, larger structural interventions also may be necessary to overcome the many challenges faced by these severely disadvantaged patients," the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute team wrote in their report.
Collectively, the findings suggest that disease management programs may make a significant difference in the ability of individuals with type 2 diabetes to control their glucose levels and avoid further health complications.