Lost With Newly Diagnosed Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes patients may not get information about diet and exercise after being diagnosed

(RxWiki News) If you are diagnosed with diabetes, you should make many changes to your lifestyle. Unfortunately, patients who are newly diagnosed with diabetes may not be getting the information they need to make these changes.

Patients recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes received little to no information about what they should eat or how they should exercise, according to recent findings.

"Eat healthy and exercise regularly to manage your diabetes."

Dr. Michelle McKinley of Queen's University Belfast and her colleagues wanted to see how recently diagnosed type 2 diabetes patients felt about self-management of their condition.

The self-management of diabetes requires patients to change their eating and exercise habits. A healthy diet and regular exercise is key to losing weight and controlling high blood sugar (a hallmark of diabetes).

During interviews with a small group of patients and health professionals, the researchers found a variety of barriers to lifestyle changes. These barriers split up into six main categories:

  • difficulty changing well-established habits
  • negative views of the 'new' or recommended diet and exercise plan
  • barriers related to social circumstances
  • lack of knowledge and understanding of the necessary changes
  • lack of motivation
  • barriers related to the practical details of making lifestyle changes

As many patients with type 2 diabetes are older, a number of patients in the interviews said it was difficult to break habits of a lifetime.

Some patients thought the dietary changes were mundane or unappealing. Speaking to this barrier, one dietitian said, "It's getting [patients] to hear what you are saying rather than just honing on the 'life's not worth living any more' if they've gotta cut out X, Y and Z."

According to Dr. McKinley, "Patients with type 2 diabetes indicated that there was sometimes a delay between diagnosis and receiving advice about how to self-manage their diabetes. Not surprisingly, many patients felt that they were 'on their own' during this time with no idea what changes to make to their lifestyle or how to set about doing it.

It is important that we try to fill this gap with easily accessible information that is specifically designed for people with type 2 diabetes," she said.

Even when patients received diabetes education, the other barriers remained.

"In conclusion, even against a background of diabetes education, recently diagnosed patients with type 2 diabetes discussed a wide range of barriers to self-management of diet and physical activity," the authors said.

These findings could help doctors gain a deeper understanding of the needs of recently diagnosed diabetes patients as well as help guide the development of educational resources, they said.

This study was very small, with only 16 newly diagnosed diabetes patients and 7 health professionals. As such, more research is needed to verify the findings in larger populations and in populations outside the United Kingdom.

The study was published November 1 in Primary Health Care Research & Development.

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Review Date: 
November 5, 2012