ANN ARBOR, Mich. Phone calls with a peer facing the same self-management challenges helped diabetes patients manage their conditions and improved their blood sugar levels better than those who used traditional nurse care management services alone, according to research from the University of Michigan Health System.
The findings, published Oct. 19 in the Annals of Internal Medicine, showed the peer partner program resulted in lower glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels after six months among men with uncontrolled diabetes.
The research was based on a peer partnership program established by the Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Health System and the University of Michigan Medical School.
Each peer pair received initial brief training in peer communication skills and was expected to communicate by telephone at least once a week about their mutual efforts to improve diabetes control. Program participants also were offered optional periodic nurse-facilitated group sessions to exchange experiences with fellow patients.
"Our model was testing the hypothesis that a good way to activate patients was to give them some skills and encouragement to both help and be helped. Just as in education they say that the best way to learn something is to try to teach it," says study lead author Michele Heisler, M.D., who is a research scientist for the Center for Clinical Management Research at the VA Ann Arbor's Health Services Research & Development Center of Excellence and associate professor of internal medicine at the U-M's Medical School. Heisler also is associate professor of health behavior and health education at U-M's School of Public Health.
"We are trying to tap into the underappreciated expertise of patients," Heisler says. "Most disease management programs put patients in the 'learner' role, whether nurse care management programs or 'expert' peer programs. But patients know a lot about living with their condition and strat
|Contact: Mary F. Masson|
University of Michigan Health System