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Approach to diabetes self-management too narrow, study suggests
Date:4/10/2012

A new study from researchers at Queen Mary, University of London reveals the many difficulties faced by people with diabetes in self-managing their disease.

People with diabetes have to invest a great deal of time and effort to manage their condition. This includes not only monitoring the level of sugar in their blood, organising their medication and following a restrictive diet but also social challenges such as negotiating relatives' input and gaining access to doctors when they need to.

In Britain the primary strategy for helping patients is a short educational course on how to self-manage the condition. The new research suggests that this approach is unlikely to succeed in isolation because it ignores the many factors that are outside the patients' control such as food labelling in restaurants, local availability of healthy foods and the expectations and behaviour of other people within family members, at school and at work.

Diabetes is an incurable disease which can have serious complications such as heart disease, kidney failure and blindness. It affects 2.6 million people in the UK and this figure is predicted to rise to four million by 2025.

Only around one per cent of a diabetic person's time is spent in the company of health professionals. The remaining 99 per cent of the time, the patient is managing their own diabetes.

The research was an 'ethnographic' study which looked in depth at a small group of 30 people with diabetes. Their ages ranged from 5 to 88 and they included different ethnic groups to reflect the fact that diabetes is particularly common in South Asians. Researchers shadowed the people for several periods of between two and five hours while they were going about their daily lives, noting how they managed their condition and the challenges they faced.

Trisha Greenhalgh, Professor of Primary Health Care at Queen Mary, University of London, led the study. She said: "Until now there
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Contact: Kerry Noble
k.noble@qmul.ac.uk
44-207-882-7943
Queen Mary, University of London
Source:Eurekalert

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