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Diabetes Self-Care Improves Slowly: Report

But nearly half of patients aren't meeting goals for blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol

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Between 33 percent and 49 percent of people with diabetes were not meeting their targets for blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol control, the report found.

Dr. Graham McMahon, co-author of an accompanying journal editorial and a diabetes specialist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, finds the figures disappointing.

"I think these results show slower than anticipated progress in meeting diabetes goals," he said.

McMahon thinks changes are needed in the way diabetes is managed and reimbursed.

"Clinicians should be given credits for improvements toward a goal," he explained. "You want to have a combination of factors that acknowledge the difficulty and complexity of engaging patients in self-care."

The best way for diabetes care providers to promote patients' self-care is to partner with them, he said. This includes exploring and dismantling the obstacles the patient experiences, noted McMahon.

"Diabetes can be all-consuming for a patient. It changes the way you interact with family and friends, and in how you view yourself, whether you consider yourself well or not well," McMahon said. Type 2 diabetes "also affects feelings of self-worth and fault because the community often blames people for having this problem."

McMahon said he'd like to see care move toward a more patient-centered environment that can help patients identify helpful strategies for improving their health. This could be accomplished with health care teams -- including nurse educators, primary care doctors, endocrinologists, podiatrists, ophthalmologists and nutritionists -- that would address the whole patient, said McMahon.

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