Diabetes education programs have been shown to be broadly successful at helping people with diabetes achieve better glucose control, as well as other beneficial outcomes such as lower levels of diabetes-related distress. But the widely varying design of diabetes education programs means that it’s not clear what format works best for the greatest number of people — lots of classes spread out over time, or an intensive program featuring hours of instruction at one time.
Many diabetes education programs have shied away from intensive courses — sometimes for scheduling reasons, and sometimes out of fear that people with diabetes may not be able to absorb a large amount of information at once. But a new study, presented virtually at the 81st Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association (ADA), shows that when it comes to lasting blood glucose control, an intensive eight-hour diabetes education program can be quite effective.
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The study’s participants were 213 people with diabetes, 80% of whom had type 2. Most participants were white (85%) and female (59%), and their average age was about 56. The average duration of diabetes was 11.7 years, so these people weren’t new to diabetes self-management — although there were some participants who had diabetes for less than six months. All participants took part in what’s known as the Diabetes One-Day Education and Care (D1D) Program, which consists of both group and individual sessions delivered by an interdisciplinary medical education team. Group sessions focused on self-care behaviors, and included a lunch session featuring a cooking demonstration by a chef. Each participant also took part in three 30-minute individual sessions with a nurse practitioner, endocrinologist, pharmacist, dietitian, nurse, or exercise specialist.
One-day intensive diabetes program linked to A1C improvements
Participants had their A1C (a measure of long-term blood glucose control) measured at the time of the program, as well as three and six months later. At the time of the program, the average A1C level was 8.2%, while after both three months and six months, this level had dropped to 7.6% — a significant improvement. Participants also answered survey questions designed to measure diabetes-related distress, which showed that both three months and six months after the program, there was a significant overall reduction in diabetes distress.
This study demonstrates that an intensive, one-day diabetes education program may be an effective format that benefits large numbers of people with diabetes. More studies are needed to gain a better understanding of how different program designs stack up against each other, or whether certain groups of people with diabetes may benefit from one type of program over another.
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