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Diabetic adults' conditions improved after phone calls with fellow patients
Date:10/18/2010

egies they have developed so have a lot to share with others also struggling. Our program hoped to mobilize patients themselves to realize how much they themselves had to offer another person with diabetes and enjoy the sense of meaning and pleasure that being needed and helping another can provide.

That's why I think people did well-- they were very motivated when they felt they were helping someone else."

In the peer support group, researchers randomly assigned 244 VA patients with uncontrolled diabetes to either peer support or traditional nurse care management. At the start, patients in the peer support group met in a group setting to set their own disease management goals and specific steps they wanted to take over the next few weeks, received basic peer communication tips, were matched with another study participant of similar age (their peer partner), and were advised to talk with their peer partner once per week. For their peer calls they used the telephones but through a system that linked calls without their having to exchange their telephone calls, that enabled them to block calls at certain hours, and that provided reminder calls if they missed a week.

Heisler says she and her fellow researchers expected to see benefits from the peer support, but were surprised at how large the improvement in glycemic control from the program after six months was. The patients who were randomly assigned to the peer support program achieved HbA1c levels that were 0.58 percentage points lower on average than those in the nurse care management group. And patients in the peer support group with baseline HbA1c levels greater than 8 percent achieved a mean decrease of 0.88 percentage points, compared with a 0.07-percentage point decrease among those in the nurse care management group. This is equivalent to that achieved by starting another oral anti-hyperglyemic medication.

More patients in the peer support group also started insulin ther
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Contact: Mary F. Masson
mfmasson@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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