Goal setting is a valuable strategy for improving self-management skills among patients with diabetes. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) strongly advocate for goal setting as an effective means to support self-care behaviors related to diabetes. Self-care behaviors include healthy eating, being active, monitoring, taking medication, problem solving, reducing risks, and healthy coping. Diabetes care team members play an important role in understanding patients’ motivation to make change, helping them set achievable and measurable behavioral goals, and guiding them through barriers and challenges that may come in the way of meeting their goals. Diabetes educators routinely use goal setting in their discussions with patients as a proven approach to ongoing diabetes self-management skill development. Primary care providers and other members of the primary care team should also learn to take advantage of this technique to support patients in their diabetes management.
Here are some useful resources for learning how to foster goal setting:
- Helping Patients Adopt Healthier Behaviors
- University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), Center for Excellence in Primary Care’s Health Coaching Action Plan
- Setting Goals to Improve Your Health
Diabetes Education and Support
Effective diabetes self-management education and ongoing self-management support are essential to enable people with or at risk for diabetes to make informed decisions and to assume responsibility for the day-to-day management of their disease or risk factors.1,2,3,4,5 ADA, AADE, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics jointly published a position statement that reiterated the importance of diabetes self-management education and provided a decision support algorithm to guide primary care providers in referring patients for diabetes education.6 Primary care providers are encouraged to rely on diabetes educators, as members or as an extension of their diabetes care team, to provide high-quality, standardized diabetes self-management education to patients. The services of diabetes educators can be integrated directly into the primary care setting or can be secured through referral to an outpatient, community-based diabetes education program. Beyond the diabetes educator, primary care teams should explore ways to engage medical office staff, non-traditional practitioners, and community partners to reinforce key messages related to optimal diabetes care and education.