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Tool for Your Practice: Diabetes Conversation Map Kits

Mar 11, 2008

Carrie Wicker, Doctor of Pharmacy Candidate, University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy, has spent considerable time with the Diabetes Conversation Map Kit, offered by Merck and HealthyI and after using it herself, she offers you a review of what is good about it.

U.S. Diabetes Conversation Map Kits
Created by Healthyi in collaboration with the American Diabetes Association, sponsored by the Merck Journey for Control Program  
Information and resource review by:
Carrie Wicker, Doctor of Pharmacy Candidate
University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy March, 2008

altDuring my endocrinology pharmacy practice rotation I witnessed a variety of patient diabetes education techniques.  I was also given the opportunity to look over a unique tool designed to enhance this education by allowing “discovery learning” in interactive sessions.  Using Conversation Maps, healthcare providers are given a new tool to teach self-management skills to patient groups.  The U.S. Diabetes Conversation Map program content is put together by Healthy Interactions Inc. and has been reviewed by the American Diabetes Association.  It is designed for use by a healthcare professional facilitator to use in groups with three to ten patients.     

There are five sessions included in the U.S. Diabetes Conversation Map Kit:  On the Road to Better Managing Your Diabetes, Diabetes and Healthy Eating, Monitoring Your Blood Glucose, Continuing Your Journey with Diabetes, and Caring for Gestational Diabetes.  Each session has a unique colorful three-by-five foot visual map.  As a visual learner myself, I can appreciate the thought behind each of these.  There are many activities, often presented in the form of game cards.  For example, in the On the Road to Better Managing Your Diabetes session, there are definition cards patients must work together to match with their diabetes-related terms.  There are also cards titled Myth or Fact Cards, which must be sorted by the group.  Each activity encourages active participation from patients.  The participants work together through the topics, and each session calls patients to develop their individual action plan.

My first thought was that this may work great for visual learners or those who learn best by doing hands-on things. And while I was a bit skeptical that all pertinent information could be covered effectively in this manner, after thoroughly reviewing the Conversation Map Kit I was very impressed at the amount and quality of the content included.  I can see how these could easily be used (suggested time is 60 to 90 minutes) to learn a significant amount of information.  As a student I understand that it is difficult to sit, listen, and learn for hours at a time, and I feel that these tools provide a great alternative to the traditional style of teaching. I also believe that this style may allow people to retain more information, and that people with a variety of learning styles could benefit from this type of session. Additionally, I was impressed at the ease of use of the Conversation Map Kit.  There are great hints and reminders throughout the lesson plans, with checklists and tips of important points to include in an easy to follow format. 

The only drawbacks I could think of were that the Conversation Maps may take a while to get familiar with and the Maps themselves are quite large .  There is complementary training sessions in the United States, sponsored by the Merck Journey for Control Program.  The Conversation Maps are also complimentary through this program and can be obtained after training.  The website www.healthyi.com contains more information on the Conversation Maps and upcoming training sessions available. 

To sign up for a class in your area go to Health Interactions: Diabetes