Diabetes management

This April, scientists, physicians, nurses, diabetes organisation heads, patients and representatives from Bayer HealthCare Diabetes Care gathered in Basel, Switzerland, for the third European Media Workshop on Diabetes. The event was hosted by Bayer HealthCare Diabetes Care, which is celebrating 40 years of innovative blood glucose monitoring.

From left: Anne-Marie Felton, Sir Michael Hirst, Dr Koula Asimakopoulou, Sandra...
From left: Anne-Marie Felton, Sir Michael Hirst, Dr Koula Asimakopoulou, Sandra Perterson (former Vice-president Bayer Health Care, USA); diabetic student Jessica, Geri Winkler, a diabetic adventurer, with Prof Bruno Vergès

In his honorary speech at the Media Workshop, Sir Michael Hirst, Vice President of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), in the UK, said: ‘Due to the natural progression of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, primary prevention of the metabolic disorder is a cross-cutting issue, which has to be tackled by governments, industry, healthcare professionals as well as diabetes organisations.’
 Professor Bruno L Vergès, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire du Bocage, Dijon, France, emphasised the need to raise awareness of the importance of self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG) for successful therapy. ‘SMBG improves levels of HbA1c (glycated haemoglobin, an important indicator of long-term blood sugar control), reduces the risk of diabetes complications and mortality, allows early identification of hypoglycaemia, improves patient well-being and the awareness of the disease.’
Professor Vergès recommended that patients report their test results to HCPs who can work with them on individualised diabetes management plans – an important recommendation. Among many publications, the Fremantle study (Davis et al., 2006) confirmed that only 70% of respondents with Type 2 diabetes had tested their blood glucose levels over the past seven days (averaging four times a week) while nearly a third never tested at all. The Karter Permanente study (Karter et al., 2001) reported similar findings: 25% of patients had not purchased testing strips for an entire year.
 What deters patients with diabetes (PWDs) from testing their blood glucose levels, even when they know that stable values help minimise the risk of debilitating and life-threatening complications? Dr Koula Asimakopoulou, of King’s College London, UK, offered intriguing answers: About 45% of Type 2 patients in the Fremantle study reported never having had any instruction on using a meter, 31% were unmotivated to start testing and 9% said they feared pricking a finger for a blood sample (Davis et al., 2006). ‘These results underline that supporting patients in SMBG is always a two step process,’ she said. ‘It comprises ensuring a sound knowledge basis as well as turning SMBG into a habitual behaviour.’
‘Diabetes nurses play a key role in motivating patients to succeed in self-managing their condition,’ said Anne-Marie Felton, President of FEND (Federation of European Nurses in Diabetes) and Vice President of the IDF, UK. ‘Nevertheless, motivation is not a constant and changes over a person’s lifetime, which is why continuous mentoring by qualified personnel is an integral part of treating diabetes successfully.’ She believes a new patient assessment aid initiated by Bayer HealthCare will further enhance patient self-management. Developed with diabetes experts, the questionnaire evaluates all aspects of diabetes management and helps nurses to structure time with patients and to recognise individual barriers to effective treatment; it also allows them to act better as positive influences and motivators.
Jessica, a 24-year-old Type 1 diabetic, provided the perspective of the patient diagnosed with diabetes in adolescence. She emphasised that education on self-management was important in helping her succeed in managing her condition, and also explained that the personal, trusting relationship with her diabetes nurse was an important and life-saving factor, especially after a dangerous hypoglycaemic episode. ‘Nurses have a major advantage over other HCPs – they have the human touch,’ she said. ‘They aren’t only concerned with calculating numbers and are less likely to judge patients.’


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