Have You Done DSMT (diabetes self-management training)?

A study just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that only 6.8% of privately insured adults attended a reimbursable diabetes self-management training/education (DSMT) session within the first year after their diagnosis. Even among patients taking insulin, the rate was only around 15%, and this is despite the fact that most states require insurance reimbursement for DSMT. Of course, some patients undoubtedly attend group sessions offered without fee by hospitals or doctor’s offices, but this low rate of face to face consultations between newly diagnosed patients and health professionals is concerning for a couple of important reasons.

First and foremost, newly diagnosed patients need accurate information about diabetes. Often, these patients have an incomplete picture of diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes. At the extremes, some don’t seem to understand that diabetes can be a serious health issue, while others believe that there is no hope for good health. Many are confused about diet too – connecting the cause of and the solution to diabetes only to sugar, for example. A timely session with a certified diabetes educator, especially one who is also a registered dietitian nutritionist (I’m biased), can not only assure patients have the “real” story, but can also explain practical and effective diabetes self-management behaviors.

Second, time is an issue. Diabetes complications result from consistently high blood glucose levels over a period of years. So, delays in understanding the importance of diabetes self management and adopting those behaviors into everyday life may give complications a head start that can’t be completely recovered. Getting credible DSMT as soon as possible means patients can begin gaining control of blood glucose levels sooner.

If you have never sat down with a diabetes-specialized health professional for diabetes self-management training/education, there’s no better time than right now. Managing diabetes is a daily responsibility that falls directly upon the patient. Wouldn’t you like to know that your daily efforts are going exactly to the right places?

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