Diabetics, providers have different perceptions

Diabetes is most effectively treated when patients and clinicians work closely together as a team but the team members seem to have different perceptions about the disorder and its treatment according to research presented at the American Association of Diabetes Educators annual meeting in Philadelphia in August.

"We found major differences in the way patients and health providers view diabetes and its treatment," says Mark Peyrot, PhD, lead investigator and professor of sociology at Loyola College in Baltimore.

For instance, patients rated their adherence to treatment higher than did nurses or physicians, and physicians underestimated their patients’ fear of low blood glucose.

"We believe treatment outcomes could be improved if health professionals increase their awareness and understanding of these differences and take them into account in their communications with their patients," Peyrot adds.

Patients who had a better initial reaction to being diagnosed with diabetes adjusted better and had an improved quality of life, the study shows. "Clinicians should identify patients who respond poorly to the diagnosis of diabetes since they may be at higher risk for later problems," Peyrot says.

Other results of the study were:

  • Nurses identified patients’ personal problems, such as financial pressures and transportation difficulty, as having a greater impact on glucose control than did physicians.
  • Nurses tended to help patients with their daily routines to encourage compliance, while physicians more often used medical information and threats.
  • The nurses’ views on the psychosocial aspects of the disease were closer than the physicians’ views to the patient views.

The study was part of a larger international study called DAWN (diabetes attitudes, wishes, and needs), which addresses attitudes and perceptions of more than 5,000 people with diabetes and 3,000 diabetes health care professionals in 13 countries. For more, go to www.dawnstudy.com.