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Research: Many programs to help diabetics manage their health do work

TORONTO, June 22, 2012 A new study has found that programs aimed at helping people prevent or manage diabetes are most successful if they are directed at the patient or the health care system. Programs aimed at physicians were only successful for patients with poorer diabetes control.

Such interventions also work best for diabetics in poorer health than those who are managing their illness well, the study found.

The study--a comprehensive review of 142 clinical trials involving more than 123,000 patients by Dr. Andrea Tricco, a scientist at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael's Hospital, appears in The Lancet.

Dr. Tricco said that despite evidence showing improved clinical outcomes for diabetics who received various preventive and therapeutic interventions, many patients do not receive them.

"The gap between ideal and actual care is not surprising in view of the complex nature of diabetes management, often needing coordinated services of primary care physicians, allied health practitioners and subspecialists," she said. "Moreover, it is a challenge to change patient behavior and encourage healthy lifestyles."

She said that with the increasing prevalence of diabetes and the burgeoning cost of managing patients with this disease, improving the efficiency of diabetes care is an important goal.

According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, more than nine million Canadians have diabetes or prediabetes. By 2020, it's estimated that diabetes will cost the Canadian healthcare system $16.9 billion a year.

"Although clinicians, managers and policy makers expend significant time and resources attempting to optimize care for patients with diabetes, the optimum approach to improving diabetes care and outcomes remains uncertain," Dr. Tricco said.

Her review of clinical trials found:

  • For patients with high levels of HbA1c the average blood sugar level over three months strategies that tar

Contact: Leslie Shepherd
St. Michael's Hospital

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