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Issue 117 Item 1 AADE: People With Diabetes and Their Healthcare Providers Diffe

May 4, 2002

Physicians more often used medical information and threats, whereas nurses more often helped patients plan daily routines. PHILADELPHIA, PA — August 8, 2002 — Diabetes is most effectively treated when patients and their physicians and nurses work closely together as a team; however, these team members appear to have different perceptions about the disorder and its treatment, according to new research(1) presented at the 29th annual meeting of the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE).

For example, patients rated their adherence to treatment higher than did their physicians or nurses(1). And physicians appear to underestimate their patients’ fear of low blood glucose (hypoglycemia), which when severe can lead to coma or even death.

"We found major differences in the way patients and health providers view diabetes and its treatment," said Mark Peyrot, PhD, lead author of the study and professor of sociology at Loyola College in Baltimore, MD. "We believe treatment outcomes could be improved if health professionals increase their awareness and understanding of these differences, and take them into account in their communications with their patients," he said. As an example, he said that, if physicians better addressed patient fears about hypoglycemia, many might be more willing to intensively control their blood glucose levels, which would reduce the risk of long-term diabetic complications.

Dr. Peyrot presented other findings, showing that patients who had a better initial reaction to being diagnosed with diabetes adjusted better to the disorder and had an improved quality of life; those who had a poor initial reaction fared worse.

"Clinicians should identify patients who respond poorly to the diagnosis of diabetes, since they may be at higher risk for later problems," said Dr. Peyrot.

Both studies were part of a larger international study called DAWN (diabetes attitudes, wishes and needs), the largest global psychosocial diabetes survey of its kind ever conducted. The full DAWN study addresses the perceptions and attitudes of more than 5,000 people with diabetes and 3,000 diabetes healthcare professionals in 13 countries.