Findings from a national survey reveal that we are seeing some improvements in diabetes awareness and knowledge, but more work is needed to improve diabetes-related health care and education.
For more than a decade, the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) has collected data to measure diabetes awareness, knowledge, and behavior over time. The NDEP National Diabetes Survey (NNDS), a periodic population-based probability survey of U.S. adults, provides insight on areas of interest to the diabetes community.
A few highlights from the most recent installment of the NNDS survey now published on the NIDDK website show that:
- Awareness of the link between diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains incomplete, with only three-quarters of respondents reporting that they are aware of the link between diabetes and CVD. Only slightly more are aware of the diabetes-kidney disease link.
- Distress related to managing diabetes remains a problem for people with diabetes. Levels of distress with the daily diabetes care routine, the demands of living with diabetes, and possible long-term complications continue to present major challenges to our ability, as health care professionals, to improve diabetes care and outcomes.
- Significant numbers of people with diabetes report that they lack confidence dealing with hyper- and hypoglycemia, suggesting that many of our patients need diabetes self-management education and support.
But this survey doesn’t deliver only bad news…
- Awareness of a family history of diabetes has increased significantly from 2011 to 2016, which is important in our efforts to reach people with risk factors for type 2 diabetes.
- Frequency and awareness of A1C testing among people with diabetes has improved, especially for Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black people with diabetes. A1C awareness also increased significantly for people with diabetes ages 65 and older.
- Particularly when diagnosed with prediabetes, people are taking positive actions to improve their health and reduce their risk of diabetes, but there is room for improvement.
As health care professionals, what can we glean from this data? Ongoing outreach and educational efforts have made progress in increasing knowledge about diabetes and diabetes risk. However, the public’s need for education and support in diabetes prevention and care remains urgent. Continued effort by health care professionals across myriad disciplines is also needed to provide a team-based approach to health promotion, disease prevention, and chronic disease management.
I encourage you to read the article entitled, Findings from a National Diabetes Survey: Highlighting Progress and Opportunities for Diabetes Prevention and Care, from the May 2019 issue of Diabetes Spectrum for more details of survey methods and findings.
Editor's Note: The National Kidney Disease Education Program (NKDEP) was discontinued in 2020.