What Motivates People to Manage Their Diabetes

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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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