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Do Group Classes Work to Improve Diabetes Control?

>> Monday, September 30, 2013

As the sheer numbers of people who develop diabetes continues to climb, we as health care providers need to look at creative ways to provide the in depth information and teaching that is required to help patients take the best possible care of their diabetes.   One of these approaches is to teach about diabetes in the form of group classes.  The question is, has the group teaching approach been proven to improve diabetes control?

Many studies have actually been done on this subject, ranging from observational studies to randomized controlled trials.  A meta-analysis in the Canadian Medical Association Journal by Housden et al, which looks at all of the literature on this topic to date, found that the class teaching approach improves hemoglobin A1C (a marker of overall diabetes control) by -0.46%.  While this is only a modest improvement in diabetes control, it is not much different than the A1C improvement we may expect to see in a patient who is close to A1C targets but not quite there, following addition of another oral medication.  

Anecdotally, I have often had my patients report back to me that they have really enjoyed being part of a diabetes education class, as it not only provides excellent information, but it also provides the opportunity for diabetics to support each other, and talk to each other about their experiences.  Knowing that you are far from alone in your diagnosis of diabetes can often go a long way to feeling secure and empowered in your journey towards improving upon your health!

If you are a diabetic and interested in group education classes, ask your doctor what is available.  Most centres of diabetes care (including our own) offer group classes free of charge.  Give it a try!

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