Teaching and Learning in Type 2 Diabetes : The Importance of Self-Perceived Roles in Disease Management

Abstract: The major part of care in type 2 diabetes is in the hands of the patient so the focus of educational interventions should be on the person behind the disease. An experience-based group education programme that actively promotes participants’ reflection and understanding has been designed and implemented in cooperation with the Swedish Pharmacy. The regression model presented in Paper I revealed the importance of self-perceived role in diabetes management. Blood glucose control two years after baseline was improved for participants who described themselves as having an active role in their treatment, compared to those taking on a passive or a compliant role. Paper II described the resulting categories from content analysis of three open-ended questions about participants’ role, goal and support needs in diabetes management. The people taking care of diabetes most effectively and needing least support were called Disease Managers; those following the health professionals’ orders and depending on regular controls were categorised as Compliant, whereas the Disheartened had difficulties in achieving good metabolic control and often described both medical and social obstacles. These three self-management profiles were strongly correlated to metabolic outcomes. In Paper III perceptions of diabetes management were reassessed: perceptions were only stable in approximately half of participants, thus providing evidence for a dynamic model of learning self-management in diabetes. The three self-management profiles still correlated with metabolic outcomes. In paper IV the long-term metabolic outcome (HbA1c) of the study population was investigated. Metabolic control was stable up to seven years following the intervention, in contrast to the metabolic deterioration often present in diabetes. The main message of this thesis is that participants’ self-perceived role had a major influence on metabolic outcomes. Assessing self-management profiles both in diabetes and possibly other chronic conditions can help health care providers to tailor their educational efforts accordingly. Furthermore, this experience-based patient education programme outside the framework of routine diabetes care has the potential to stabilise metabolic control on the long run effectively.