Research Shows a Phone Call can Improve Diabetic Condition
A simple phone conversation with a friend may be the key factor in controlling blood sugar levels in diabetic patients, according to new research from the University of Michigan Health System.
The research, which is published in the most recent issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, found that diabetic patients who struggled with controlling their condition improved their self-management skills better than those who relied solely on traditional nurse care management services after discussing their condition with a peer facing the same challenges.
The study showed that male diabetic patients experienced lower glycated hemoglobin levels just after six months of participating in what researchers have dubbed as the “peer partner program.”
The program was established by a collaborative effort of The Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Health System and the University of Michigan Medical School and was designed to prove that education and motivation are imperative principles to successfully practice self-care.
The study surveyed 244 male patients with uncontrolled diabetes. All of the patients were originally given a brief training in peer communication skills and were required to set their own disease management goals before they were randomly assigned to participate in either the peer partner program or traditional nurse care management group.
Those who were selected to partake in the peer partner program were required to discuss with their partner, who was similar in age, the mutual efforts they were making to improve their diabetes. Participants were required to discuss these efforts at least once a week via telephone.
The research results showed that patients who were randomly assigned to the peer partner program had on average a .58 lower glycated hemoglobin levels than those who received nurse care management services alone. The study also showed that patients in the peer partner program that originally had greater than 8 percent baseline glycated hemoglobin levels experienced an .88 decrease, as opposed to the .07-percent decrease among those in the nurse care management group.
The study also shows that more patients in the peer partner program started insulin therapy earlier on that than those in the nurse care management group. This step, according to researches, is highly resisted among newly-diagnosed diabetic patients.
The results showed that the two groups did not “differ in blood pressure, self-reported medication adherence, or diabetes-specific distress, but the RPS group reported improvement in diabetes social support.”
According to researchers, this is the first randomized study of its kind and may spread the idea that reciprocal peer support could possibly benefit those who are struggling with a variety of different chronic disease management.