Role of Educators: Improving Patient Outcomes
Diabetes educators and nutritionists are key players in the educational process. Education programs can help patients with diabetes achieve significant improvements in glycemic control. A recent review of clinical studies has confirmed it. As a matter of fact, more than 75% of patients who were prescribed diabetes medication reported they were more likely to take it as a result of taking diabetes education classes.* That’s probably why the American Diabetes Association (ADA) has worked to require state-regulated health insurance plans in 46 states and the District of Columbia to cover basic diabetes education.
The American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) Self-Care Behaviors
According to the AADE, effective diabetes education brings about changes in patient behavior that can be measured and quantified.
The AADE has identified 7 key behaviors, known as the AADE Self-Care Behaviors framework, that lead to better self-management of diabetes. Diabetes educators can help people learn about:
- Healthy eating—The effect of food on blood sugar, sources of fat and carbohydrates, effective meal planning, and resources that patients can use to make wise food choices.
- Being active—Developing an activity plan for patients and talking about ways to overcome common barriers to increased physical activity.
- Monitoring—About blood sugar, blood pressure, and other diabetes monitoring equipment. Educators teach how to use the equipment correctly, how often and when they should test, what appropriate target ranges are, and how to interpret test results.
- Taking medication—How the medicines work, potential side effects, timing and frequency of administration, and what happens if patients don’t take their medication as prescribed.
- Problem solving—Helping patients develop effective coping strategies for the variety of health-related situations that may arise because of their disease.
- Reducing risks—Teaching the importance of self-care behaviors, such as quitting smoking, having regular eye and foot examinations, and monitoring blood pressure and blood sugar, and tracking personal care records.
- Healthy coping—Working with patients to identify psychological and social factors that affect their health and can help them continue with effective self-care behaviors.
Effective diabetes education requires investment, but the costs may ultimately be offset by the aggregate benefits that increased knowledge can deliver. The Journey for Control program adds a powerful tool for diabetes educators to use in their sessions—at no cost to them or to you.
Educators discover a new, practical way to discuss living with diabetes
The more patients learn about diabetes, the better they understand the condition—and the need for them to make the healthy changes and choices that can positively impact their diabetes outcomes. Nobody likes to be lectured, though—including patients with diabetes, who will have to accept the need to live differently for the rest of their lives.
Through the use of colorful, engaging tabletop displays called Conversation Map® tools (created by Healthy Interactions Inc. in collaboration with the American Diabetes Association, and accepted as a curriculum for their educational recognition program), diabetes educators can bring diabetes-related information to life in a nonthreatening way.
When it comes to diabetes education, group learning can be more conducive to information retention than non–group learning, and Conversation Map tools put that group dynamic to good use. The diabetes educator facilitates a discussion of the points illustrated on the Conversation Map tool, encouraging participants to interact, share, and exchange opinions on lifestyle changes and behavior modification.
Spread the word about diabetes educators to your members
Your members with diabetes need to understand that diabetes education is available, effective —and, if applicable, covered. Tell them that your plan may employ educators, nutritionists, and diabetologists, or some may be operating from area hospitals. Communicate with them to ensure that they’re aware of exactly what’s available to them. And you can be confident in the knowledge that diabetes educators can access many tools—Conversation Map tools, for example—at no cost to them or you.
AADE7 Self-Care Behaviors and AADE7 are trademarks of the American Association of Diabetes Educators.
Content specific to AADE used with permission of the American Association of Diabetes Educators. All rights reserved. Not for further reproduction or distribution without written permission of the AADE.
* Survey of diabetes education was conducted via Web and telephone within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., June 22 through July 10, 2007, among 1226 respondents aged 18 to 75 years, self-reportedly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Selected demographic groups were oversampled to ensure adequate representation. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available through Merck & Co., Inc.