Diabetes-Management Programs Show Real Results, Survey Finds

January 7, 2011

Treating diabetes can be a complicated task: monitoring your blood glucose levels, taking oral medication or injected medication, and carefully watching your diet and exercise regimens is often a challenge.

Does having a comprehensive diabetes-management program help? Researchers from France studied these programs, which can include telemedicine, patient coaching, psychological assistance, exercise counseling and dietary information, to see if they make a measurable difference in the success of diabetes treatment.

After examining the results of 41 trials of diabetes-management programs that included over 7,000 people with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, the researchers found that program participants had an average reduction in levels of hemoglobin A1C that was about 38% greater than that of people who did not participate in a diabetes-management program. When A1C is elevated, that amount can help lower a person's risk of diabetes complications.

The study also revealed that programs with more frequent contact between participants and health care specialists had the greatest success. For example, weekly telephone counseling or nurse visits throughout the year. "The greater effectiveness associated with a high frequency of patient contact suggests that only disease-management programs with intensive interventions should be implemented, perhaps by targeting patients at high risk of diabetes complications," the study authors wrote in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Though the features of diabetes-management programs vary, most medical experts agree that, at a minimum, people with diabetes should have a comprehensive physical once a year and have the state of their diabetes assessed at least once every 6 months.

Source: Clément Pimouguet, Mélanie Le Goff, Rodolphe Thiébaut, Jean François Dartigues, and Catherine Helmer. "Effectiveness of disease-management programs for improving diabetes care: a meta-analysis." Canadian Medical Association Journal, Dec 2010.

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at HealthCommunities.com

Published: 07 Jan 2011

Last Modified: 07 Sep 2011