Get tips to help patients manage their diabetes so they can stay healthier for longer.
November is National Diabetes Month, a time when communities across the country bring attention to diabetes. This year’s theme, “Take Charge of Tomorrow,” is about encouraging people with diabetes to take charge of their health to prevent diabetes complications.
The blog posts below include advice and research about working with patients to manage their diabetes. You can also share the video, flyers, and other resources from the National Diabetes Month webpage and online toolkit, which include tips for your patients to
build healthy lifestyle habits
manage their diabetes ABCs (A1C, blood pressure, cholesterol)
take medicines on time
reach or maintain a healthy weight
take care of their mental health
work with their health care team
Research shows that diabetes self-management education and support (DSMES) can improve A1C levels and have a positive effect on other clinical, psychosocial, and behavioral aspects of diabetes. Margaret (Maggie) Powers, PhD, RD, CDE, a clinician and research scientist at the International Diabetes Center in Park Nicollet in Minneapolis, explains how.
“Our goal in writing the DSMES joint position statement was to provide clear guidance on the four critical times when a person with type 2 diabetes might need more attention to diabetes self-management,” Dr. Powers says. “The objective was to encourage health care professionals to assess, provide, and adjust DSMES. This can help to avoid crisis management and support people with diabetes to be comfortable and confident in their decision making.”
In this interview on medication adherence, Dr. Olayinka O. Shiyanbola explains how health care professionals can help patients with diabetes reframe negative beliefs and perceptions to better manage their A1C levels.
“A lot of beliefs that people hold around medication and diabetes are culturally influenced, based on what they’ve learned from family members or other people that they know,” Dr. Shiyanbola says. “A lot of misinformation can be avoided when providers take time to marry the biomedical model of what causes diabetes and their biological knowledge of medicines with the cultural beliefs and perceptions that the patient has. Building trust is also important. If there is not that therapeutic alliance with the provider, the patient is going to go home and not trust the medicine they were prescribed. Using health literacy tools, while speaking in simple clear language, is a bridge to building trust.”
The approach to managing obesity in people with diabetes can be much more challenging because of metabolic changes. In this video, Scott Kahan, MD, MPH, discusses recommendations and resources that health care professionals can use to address managing obesity and weight in patients with diabetes.
“One of the things I frequently hear from clinicians is that—even when they are ready to counsel a patient about obesity and weight management—they’re concerned that they may put off the patient or they don’t otherwise know how to start the conversation, how to broach the sensitive topic,” Dr. Kahan says. “And I have one very straightforward recommendation on that: start by asking permission. Ask the patient if it’s okay if we talk about weight during that encounter.”
Health care professionals can support patient health by sharing tools and strategies to reduce stress. In this post, Krystal M. Lewis, PhD, talks about how health care professionals can support their patients with diabetes in managing stress.
“Health care professionals can discuss with patients the impact of stress on health and why it’s important to manage it,” Dr. Lewis says. “They can engage with the patient about stressors they might be experiencing and help them figure out ways to manage the stress. It’s important that health care professionals make the experience normal, by letting their patients know that everyone experiences stress, so they don’t feel bad for experiencing it.”
It is often said that collaborating among health care professionals can improve care for patients, but what does this mean in practice? In this video blog post, Joshua Joseph, MD, MPH, FAHA, speaks with his colleagues at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center—Janet G. Zappe, RN, MS, CDCES, and Allan Sommer, MS, ACSM—about their team’s multidisciplinary programs that help patients manage diabetes.
“Diabetes is a complex condition, and it really takes multiple strategies, including medications and lifestyle modifications, to appropriately manage someone,” says Dr. Joseph. “A teamwork approach to diabetes care may be more effective in helping people cope with the demands of controlling diabetes. Central to this, when we think about this collaborative care model, are shared goals within and across settings to provide coordinated high-quality, patient-centered care.”
How do you work with patients to help them prevent diabetes complications? Share below in the comments.