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Diabetes public health: UCSF study highlights need for better guidelines
Date:9/13/2011

A survey of federally funded diabetes prevention and control programs in 57 U.S. states and territories has highlighted the need for better diabetes treatment guidelines that are specifically adapted to different populations. Such guidelines do not currently exist.

The survey, conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center (SFGH) and the California Department of Public Health, looked at how state programs disseminate diabetes treatment guidelines to doctors. Usually, it found, state programs distribute clinical practice guidelines obtained from national clinical specialty organizations.

As described in the American Journal of Public Health, these national guidelines are geared toward managing diabetes in individuals, not planning care for populations and may not be designed to operate optimally within a given state's resources. But officials who oversee these programs do not have enough scientific evidence to adapt these guidelines to their needs and resources, the survey revealed.

For instance, current guidelines call for annual vision screening, since retinopathy and blindness are common health problems associated with diabetes. But some people with diabetes may be at low risk of such problems, and for them getting an eye exam every other year might suffice.

If more specific, adapted guidelines did exist, each state might be able to better maximize its resources and more effectively confront the pressing problem of diabetes, which affects about one in 10 Americans and costs taxpayers more than $200 billion annually.

"In order to improve diabetes health for populations, rather than individuals, we need to know how to maximize health and quality of life with the limited resources that are available," said Urmimala Sarkar, MD, MPH, an assistant professor at UCSF Division of General Internal Medicine and the Center for Vuln
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Contact: Jason Socrates Bardi
jason.bardi@ucsf.edu
415-502-4608
University of California - San Francisco
Source:Eurekalert  

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