Diabetes Self-Management Education: What it is and How Can it Help
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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.

Diabetes Self-Care includes 7 key areas:3

  • 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

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
    • Improved A1c (a measure of blood glucose control of the previous 3 months). A1c may be reduced, “by as much as 1 % in people with type 2 diabetes” 1
  • Have reduced health care costs
    • Attributed to reduced hospital admissions and readmissions as well as delayed onset of chronic complications
  • Have an improved sense of well-being and better quality of life

Where and 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
  • Pharmacies
  • Web-based

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.”
  • CMS currently reimburses for, “10 program hours of initial diabetes education and 2 hours in each subsequent year.”
  • 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
  • Annually
  • 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: American Association of Diabetes Educators
view references
  1. Powers M, et al. Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support in Type 2 Diabetes A Joint Position Statement of the American Diabetes Association, the American Association of Diabetes Educators, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Diabetes Care. 2015; 38(7): 1372-1382.
  2. Li R, et al. (2014). Diabetes Self-Management Education and Training Among Privately Insured Persons with Newly Diagnosed Diabetes — United States, 2011–2012. Retrieved August 19, 2017 from: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6346a2.htm
  3. AADE7 Self-Care Behaviors (2017). Retrieved August 19, 2017 from: https://www.diabeteseducator.org/patient-resources/aade7-self-care-behaviors
  4. Bardsley J, Baker K, Powers M. Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support Algorithm of Care: Tools for Use and Dissemination. AADE In Practice. 2017; 5(5): 22-28.
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