For Diabetes Only

Here at Diabetes Self-Management, we often write about someone’s “health-care team” or “diabetes team.” These phrases evoke an ideal of a unified group of doctors, nurses, diabetes educators, dietitians, and others working with a patient and his family to produce the best outcomes. Of course, how closely reality matches this ideal varies from person to person. Some people with diabetes most definitely see doctors and other health-care professionals who do not communicate or cooperate with one another, while others see only a primary doctor regularly. Traditional medical practice, in which a patient sees medical specialists only when acute problems arise, does not always easily support a team-based treatment strategy.


Yet across the Unites States and around the world, there are dedicated diabetes centers designed to apply a team-based approach to diabetes care. This approach was pioneered by Dr. Elliott Joslin, who founded the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston in 1952. Diabetes centers may be freestanding or part of a hospital, clinic, or university; some perform research, while other focus only on patient care. Specific programs offered vary from center to center. How do you know if getting care from a diabetes center might be right for you?

As a recent article in the Boston Globe highlights, one impetus for joining a comprehensive diabetes-management program is difficulty achieving recommended lifestyle changes on one’s own. The article profiles a retired police dispatcher who joined a lifestyle-management program for people with Type 2 diabetes and experienced improvements in his habits, yet when the program ended he lapsed into his old ways. By joining a new, more intensive program that sends social workers to participants’ homes each week, he was able to again sustain dietary changes.

The Globe article predicts that as the rate of Type 2 diabetes in the United States increases — it is expected to double or even triple by 2050 — lifestyle-intervention programs will become increasingly important. The recently released preliminary results of a large study on lifestyle-intervention programs for Type 2 diabetes confirm the medical benefits such programs can have. The Look AHEAD (Action for Health in Diabetes) study has 5,145 participants at 16 centers across the country; over the first four years, participants assigned to the lifestyle-intervention group showed numerous improvements compared with those assigned to the support-and-education group. These include an average weight loss of 6.15% versus 0.88%, an average drop in HbA1c level of 0.36% versus 0.09%, improved treadmill fitness, and lower blood pressure.

Do you get your care from a dedicated diabetes center? If so, what led you to the center, and how has its care affected your health and well-being? Would you be interested in joining a lifestyle-intervention program offered by a diabetes center? If you have participated in such a program, did you find it helpful? Should more people seek specialized, intensive diabetes treatment? Leave a comment below!

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  • joan

    About dedicated diabetes care centers. Yes, yes, yes! I say this because I found a Diabetes clinic, a local medical clinic and specialist about 10 years ago and it has made all the difference in my control.

    How did I find one? I was not getting the help I needed so I began to seek better expertise. I used Google and found a Diabetes Clinic but quite a distance from my home. There was no problem as they scheduling me at my convenience. The endocrinologist and CDE are available to me either by phone or email 24/7. I have a reliable ER two blocks from home. Tele-medicine is beginning in our rural area! The perfect scenario now, however, it took almost 20 years to be developed and made available!

    All my doctors communicate when necessary and share medical information; and tele medicine is now being developed in our area so my doctors can share technical info and test results.

    Just recently, my endocrinologist (200 miles from home, one way) asked that I use a CGM for 3 days for further analysis (I can’t use one every day because because Medicare with not cover this equipment). I realized the traveling meant lots of it and extra expense. So, I asked my local medical clinic if the CGM test was available and could they supply the results to my endo? Yes, they could. WOW! Yes, my medical health team does communicate because I politely insist upon it. :-))

    I am most fortunate and wish all diabetics had my type of good care available to them.

  • Mary Merritt Rojas

    Where can I get a listing of Diabetic Centers, I live Cullman Alabama. My doctor though his wife is diabetic never talks to be about any bad symptoms that might be happening to my body. Even if one is not near me, do they have a person ie. professional that could answer questions. Thank you.

  • Glenda Wolfer

    Where can I find a diabetes doctor in Tucson Arizona

  • Ingrid Strauch

    Here are two places to start looking for diabetes education and care providers:

    Click here for a list of diabetes education programs that have been accredited by the American Association of Diabetes Educators:

    Click here to search for diabetes education programs recognized by the American Diabetes Association: