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Education may help diabetic patients

The British Medical Journal has published the results of a study that aimed to assess the efficacy of a structured group education programme in improving disease control in patients with diabetes.

The study recruited 824 participants from 207 general practices in the UK and followed them up for a year. Patients were randomised to usual care or given six hours of education were delivered and regular assessments were taken including HbA1c, blood pressure, cholesterol profile, weight and quality of life.

Overall the study found that there was greater weight loss and a higher rate of smoking cessation in the intervention group. Patients also had a better understanding of their illness and were more optimistic about the future. There were no differences in HbA1c, blood pressure or lipid profiles.

The authors conclude that, "a structured group education programme for patients with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes resulted in greater improvements in weight loss and smoking cessation and positive improvements in beliefs about illness". Delivering structured education in the primary care setting appears to be worthwhile.

Action: Clinicians should ensure that patients who are newly diagnosed with diabetes are offered educational support about their illness. Delivery of this education in a structured group format may make better use of resources.