Diabetes is a chronic condition that requires significant ongoing self management by patients. Self management includes monitoring of blood sugar levels, staying with medication regimes prescribed by health professionals and lifestyle changes. Patients often struggle with all of it. Peer to peer support can help patients face the ongoing challenges of diabetes management. Research demonstrates that patient better follow medication recommendations improves with internet follow up. This follow up support can be provided through social media. Diabetes peer to peer support is something that could and maybe should be recommend by health professionals to patients to support self effective management.
Before being recommended by physicians peer to peer support need to be trustworthy. Lay person patient advocates involved with peer support need to practice to ethical standards that specifically focus on emotional support while deferring treatment and medical advice to professionals. I think it is worth noting that a lot of the Diabetes Online Community is already there.
It is not me making up the value of peer to peer connections. Studies demonstrate that technology based communications can improve all types of diabetes compliance. These studies have examined people with diabetes from a variety of age ranges, economic backgrounds and nations. Patients who have received internet support have better health outcomes, typically measure by HbA1c. Studies also show improved patient quality of life measures.
Research matters so brief overview of key points form a few studies follows. Bandura (2004) observes, “The field of health is changing from a disease model to a health model.” It is no longer enough to treat the sick, health he writes, “is heavily influenced by lifestyle habits” and “health promotion should begin with goals not means.” To me that can be seen to say the goal is living better with diabetes and maybe the doctor’s office is only part of the way to get to better.
[AS: Click on the title link to read the rest of this post on the Your Diabetes May Vary blog.]