Last week some of the editorial staff at Diabetes Self-Management attended the annual meeting of the American Association of Diabetes Educators. This is something we do every year to learn about the latest ideas and advances in diabetes care and treatment. The substance of the meeting is several days of talks and presentations, and there’s also an exhibition hall, in which companies display their products and services.


This year, as in years past, the question on the minds of many of the speakers was about what motivates people to care for their diabetes — and how health-care professionals can help people find that motivation.

In one of the talks we heard, two diabetes educators described how they had emphasized the idea that the recommended blood glucose, blood cholesterol, and blood pressure goals are “safe” levels in their diabetes education classes. This approach was based on the idea that most people are motivated to maintain their personal safety. And indeed, the educators reported some positive results among their students when they used this concept.

Another speaker reported positive behavior changes in the people he worked with after he used an online risk assessment tool to show them their current risk of cardiovascular disease — and how their actions could lower that risk. The tool he used is based on data from the Framingham Heart Study and can be used by anyone.

A number of speakers mentioned the importance of health-care professionals choosing their words carefully when speaking to people about blood glucose control and lifestyle changes. After all, the health-care provider’s role is to help the person overcome barriers to good diabetes care, and a person who feels blamed or ashamed is less likely to be honest about what’s really getting in his way.

What is your take on this? Are these health-care professionals on the right track? What motivates, or has motivated, you to take steps to care for your diabetes?

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  • CalgaryDiabetic

    It is important that the health care provider do nothing to discourage the patient from good behaviour even better would be to encourage good habits. My Endo made fun of my writting down everything I put in my mouth as being unnecessary. For him it is unnecessary but since I gave up my log I gained 15 lb.

  • Claudia

    How sad is that? I find that my doctor says and does little to encourage me in my diabetes. She has never suggested anything and just keeps an eye on my A1c level. She’s never suggested going to a diabetes class or asked me if I would be interested in going. I am going to see her soon and I want to bring up going to a class and talking to a dietician. I have been thinking about writing everything down that I put in my mouth. I really don’t care if someone doesn’t think it’s necessary or not. If it helps me to keep track of what I’m eating that’s a good thing!

  • Jackie Rozine

    I decided to insist my Dr. send me to a diabetes class at our local hospital. From that I learned of a monthly meeting the diabetes educators and dieticians hold with informative classes monthly. I try to never miss one. I especially like the one in December when they feed us and give us the recipes of foods that are served. Each month there is a different topic and I have learned so much that has helped me. Look into finding this type of help. You will be glad you did! something for yoursel

  • Lynne G.

    After years of frustration and fear over my wild glucose swings, I finally learned to focus on what’s within my control and to let go the rest. Acceptance is the crucial element. It means that I try to accept the moment fully…no matter what is happening in the moment. So if I am temporarily out of control all i can do is take the best action i can in the moment fix the problem. I used to strive for perfection and now I do strive for “safety” as you mentioned.

    My endo is a wonderful woman who almost never judges and is very accepting, so i feel comfortable telling her whatever. However i feel furious every time i see my family medicine doctor. I walk away with a print out that says in bold letters “Diabetes Type 1 – OUT OF CONTROL.” It takes me a while to get my head straight again after a doctor’s appointment. There have been times when I temporarily gave up in response to some stupid thing that a doctor said. Sometimes its important to ignore the doctor and get a health enhancing massage instead.

  • CyndyC

    I am an educator, I am going to savor all of your comments, especially about the “saftey” part! Good choice of words.
    Also, as an educator, I love it when patients and families suggest ways that they are motivated and express a need that I or the physician can help with.
    Thanks for your expert opinions!