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William Polonsky Part 4, Motivating Diabetes Patients

In part 4 of this Exclusive Interview, Dr. William Polonsky talks with Diabetes in Control Publisher Steve Freed during the ADA meeting in San Diego, California about the primary motivator for many diabetes patients who are typically slow to care for themselves.

William Polonsky, PhD, is President and Founder of the Behavioral Diabetes Institute. He is also Associate Clinical Professor in Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego.

Transcript of this video segment:

Steve Freed: Let me ask you a question. In my experience, and everybody’s different so you can’t make any general statements for everybody, especially for type 1 and type 2 diabetes. A lot of the times I find that people will do for others what they won’t do for themselves. I had a couple of patients that had dogs. I couldn’t get them to increase their physical activity. They didn’t have enough time. I called their vets and told them we’re doing a study and you need to tell them that they need to walk their dogs three times a day for 20 minutes. And all three of those people actually did it most of the time. To me that just kinda blew my mind. That for their own health to prevent loss of limbs, heart attacks, cancer they didn’t do it, but for their dog they would. Do you see that at all in your practice?

William Polonsky: I just love that you’re doing that, that’s wonderful. That makes so much sense. When we think about what helps people to be successful. First of all i want to think about that idea but one of the other major things is when they have people in their life who are rooting for them, when they have people in their life who care about them. Often times, it’s doing for others that can matter but I think at the heart of what you’re saying it’s that touchy feely stuff, it’s love. When you feel like someone cares about what you’re doing, everything gets easier. It’s a fundamental thing we’ve seen in behavior change research for decades, someone is rooting for you that’s amazing. It’s really one of the undiscussed reasons why people with diabetes do so much better in clinical trials. Clinical trial data is extraordinary in terms of, if you look at the effect with our medications. We don’t see that A1c benefit outside of clinical trials in the real world. There’s people in that trial who are holding you accountable but they’re rooting for you and that sense of just care and love. As healthcare providers, we are often uncomfortable to use those kind of words but it’s the fuel in the engine to a large degree, in a lot of cases.

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