Diabetes Self-Management Education: What it is and How Can it Help
Last updated: September 2022
Diabetes education is paramount to successful diabetes management. The American Diabetes Association recommends that each individual with diabetes receive diabetes self-management education at their initial diagnosis and thereafter as needed.1
However, provider referral for diabetes self-management education is inconsistent. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "only an estimated 6.8% of privately insured, newly diagnosed adults participated in diabetes self-management education."2
What is Diabetes Self-Management Education (DSME)?
Diabetes Self-Management Education is the ongoing education that teaches those with diabetes the fundamentals of diabetes self-care. Patients learn the tools necessary to care for their diabetes as well as how to fit diabetes self-care into their daily routine.
DSME is a patient-centered process that takes into consideration patient goals and life experience, both of which help empower patients to make informed decisions.1
Diabetes self-management support (DSMS) includes follow-up education/support that takes place after the initial diabetes self-management education. A major goal of DSMS is to assist patients in maintaining behavior change.1
Diabetes self-care includes 7 key areas:3
- Healthy Eating
- Being Active
- Taking Medication
- Problem Solving
- Reducing Risks
- Healthy Coping
What are the benefits of DSME?
Research has shown that people who receive Diabetes Self-Management Education are more likely to:1,3
- Use primary care and preventive services (i.e. screening tests and shots)
- Take medications as prescribed by their physician
- Control their blood glucose, blood pressure and blood lipids
- Improve A1c. A1c may be reduced, "by as much as 1 percent in people with type 2 diabetes."1
- Have reduced health care costs
- Have an improved sense of well-being and better quality of life
Who provides DSME/DSMS?
Diabetes self-management education are outpatient programs that commonly take place in a hospital setting. As healthcare has continued to advance, so have DSME programs. Programs are now available in the following settings/formats:
- Office practices
- Community health centers
The National Standards for DSME require that one instructor, who has played a role in designing the DSME program, be a "nurse, dietitian, pharmacist, or other trained credentialed health professional (such as a certified diabetes educator)."1
Insurance coverage for DSME/DSMS
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as well as many private health insurance plans provide reimbursement for both DSME and DSMS.
DSME programs must be, "recognized or accredited by a CMS-designated national accreditation organization (NAO). Current NAOs are the American Diabetes Association and the American Academy of Diabetes Educators."
Health care providers need to provide a referral for DSME. The referral must contain the following information:
- Diabetes type
- Treatment plan
- Reason for referral
When should diabetes self-management education and support take place?
The American Academy of Diabetes Educators (AADE) recommends that education and support take place at the follow critical times:1,4
- At diagnosis
- When there are new complicating factors influencing self-management
- When a transition in care occurs
What can you do?
Ask your physician for a referral to a DSME program. You may find that you have to educate your physician on DSME, including what it is and the numerous benefits.
To find an accredited program in your area, go to the American Association of Diabetes Educators website.
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