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William Polonsky Part 5, Engaging Diabetes Patients

In part 5, the conclusion 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 one question a doctor can ask their patient to really make an impact on their engagement with the patient.

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: A patient walks into a doctor’s office and the doctor has 15 minutes. If you had to pick out three things to help him communicate with that patient, what would you tell him to either do or not to do?

William Polonsky: Well, first of all in real life they’re not going to have 15 minutes to talk about diabetes, they’re going to talk about why their elbow hurts and everything else, so they’re lucky if diabetes comes up at all. I think the most honorable, and important thing to do when you’re ever seeing a patient with diabetes, the one thing if you don’t have anything else is to take time to ask that patient one question, which is, “Can you tell me, Mrs. Smith, one thing about diabetes that’s driving you crazy? Or that’s bugging you?” and you may not be able to fix it, but that you honor your patients by even asking that question and they’re more likely to feel engaged and be engaged and be interested in anything you have to say after that, that by including them in your agenda and letting them know that’s important and by normalizing by your question that I presume there is probably is something that is annoying you about this disease, you’re already 10 steps ahead, anything else you do is beautiful after that. So, just start with that.

Steve Freed: I wanna thank you for your great tips. Looking into the future I’ve got to sit down with you for a couple hours or days and pick your brain because obviously how many diabetes psychologists are there in the U.S.?

William Polonsky: Who are actually practicing? Very very few, I mean very few.

Steve Freed: Are there more than 10?

William Polonsky: We have to think about those who work with adults versus those who work in pediatrics. There’s actually probably a couple dozen who work in pediatrics but who work with adults? I’d be hardpressed to think there’s more than 15 maybe in the whole country.

Steve Freed: And how many of those have published books?

William Polonsky: A lot fewer, maybe 5? Maybe less.

Steve Freed:  When was your last book?

William Polonsky: Well, I’ve been too busy doing publications, I haven’t had time to do a book in 5-6 years.

Steve Freed: What is your favorite book you’ve written?

William Polonsky: My first book, Diabetes Burnout, which feels older than the skies these days.

Steve Freed: Nothing’s changed since then, except for maybe CGM.

William Polonsky: That poor book needs a refresh at this point, but the issues are still there and still real and I know still touch people because I hear from folks all the time.

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