McMaster University

McMaster University

Community-based approach improves diabetes care

By Amanda Boundris
Published: August 17, 2011
Diana Sherifali
Diana Sherifali

Participation in a unique, community-based diabetes support program has helped affected Hamiltonians better manage their condition and led to improvement of most diabetes self-management behaviours, according to a new McMaster study.

Diabetes affects about 10 per cent of the adult population in Hamilton and the number of young people diagnosed is rising across North America at an alarming rate. Problems related to diabetes include blindness, heart attacks, kidney disease, and infections leading to amputations. It is a complex illness that requires resources to manage and one's ability to self-manage the condition is challenged by the limited availability of clinic-based resources.

The free and voluntary Diabetes Hamilton (DH) program supplements the limited specialty services and tools by providing community-based resources, including: a diabetes registry, involving baseline and annual follow-up health questionnaires; a quarterly newsletter; a comprehensive inventory of over 100 diabetes-related community resources; a website offering information and resources; and educational events for diabetic individuals and health care providers.

"What makes Diabetes Hamilton unique is that it provides the opportunity for participants to gain self-management skills and knowledge directly, as well as engage their health care provider at the same time,' said Diana Sherifali, an assistant professor with the McMaster School of Nursing and the study's lead investigator. "By registering in the program, participants and their health care provider are given evidence-based diabetes resources and tools to facilitate self-management, creating a platform for discussions regarding diabetes care.'

For the study, published in the latest issue of European Diabetes Nursing, 2,994 DH registrants from February 2000 to March 2007 were included in a cross-sectional survey and a trend analysis, examining the impact of a community-based approach – specifically the DH program – on diabetes self-management behaviours.

The trend analysis of behaviours showed that most self-reported self-management behaviours increased over the years with participation in DH. Notably, researchers saw an increase in cholesterol screening, diabetes provider visits, and medication use for glycaemic control and vascular protection. Also, more than 80 per cent of registrants reported that DH is helping them manage their diabetes.

Sherifali said this research is important because it illustrates that "self-management does not need to be facilitated by health care providers in limited settings with limited resources; rather, participants have the power to self-manage and guide the care that they need in collaboration with their health care provider.'

For more information, visit Diabetes Hamilton.

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