Peer phone calls may help diabetics control their symptoms

Type 2 diabetes can be a difficult condition to manage. Between monitoring insulin levels and choosing the right foods, it can seem like the disease takes over a person's life. This overwhelming feeling can sometimes be the worst part of the condition for some sufferers.

However, a recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine has found that diabetics who call peers who are facing similar circumstances can significantly improve their management of the condition. Individuals who followed this treatment strategy were able to improve their blood sugar to a greater degree than those who used traditional nurse care management services.

"Our model was testing the hypothesis that a good way to activate patients was to give them some skills and encouragement to both help and be helped. Just as in education they say that the best way to learn something is to try to teach it," said Michele Heisler, who led the study.

The research was based on a peer partnership program used by the Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Health System in Michigan. Participants were assigned to call another diabetic at least once per week to talk about their efforts to control or improve their diabetes symptoms.

Heisler said that she was surprised at how effective the model was at helping type 2 diabetics bring their blood sugar levels under control.
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