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NEW YORK — A diabetes education program developed by Johns Hopkins researchers significantly improved long-term blood-sugar control among patients.
According to findings published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, the program taught low-income, poorly educated diabetics to better manage their disease. Researchers divided 56 participants into two groups, providing one group with an intensive problem-solving course that spanned more than nine sessions and covered standard diabetes self-management and care, as well as ways to manage financial, social, resource and interpersonal issues related to the disease. The latter received a condensed two-session version of the program.
Three months after the end of the program, participants in the intensive group saw their hemoglobin A1C levels fall by an average of 0.7, compared with their levels before the start of the program. Levels below 5.7 are considered normal, while the A1C target for people with diabetes is below 7. Participants in the two-session group, however, did not see any improvement.
"We know that people need information to manage their disease, but having knowledge of the facts is not enough for behavioral change," said Felicia Hill-Briggs, an associate professor in the general internal medicine division at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the study's lead author. "With this novel approach, we have found a way to give people the skills to solve problems in all areas of their lives so that they can take diabetes off the back burner and start caring for their health."