Group meetings found to be helpful for managing type 2 diabetes

by Barbara Hewitt on March 10, 2017

More consideration should be given to group-based education to help people with type 2 diabetes as it is beneficial and cost effective, according to new research.

Those taking part often absorb more detailed information than they would do in a one-to-one meeting about their diabetes management as there is more time for discussions, according to the research from Bond University in Queensland, Australia.

Support GroupThis meant that they were more likely to take management of their condition on board and the researchers found that those involved in group-based education saw a greater improvement in HbA1c levels.

Other benefits include support from peers attending the group discussions, as they understand what everyone is going through and families can also be facilitated.

The research study analysed data from 47 studies published between 1988 and 2015 that measured HbA1c and followed participants for at least six months, looking fasting blood glucose, weight, BMI, waist circumference, blood pressure, blood lipid profiles, diabetes knowledge and self-efficacy.

They found a greater reduction in HbA1c in group based education at six to 10 months in 30 studies, at 12 to 14 months in 27 studies, at 18 months in three studies and at 36 to 48 months in five studies. There were no differences observed at 24 months.

Outcomes also favoured group-based education for fasting blood glucose, body weight, waist circumference, triglyceride levels and diabetes knowledge, but not at all time points. Compared with peer led interventions, those facilitated by a single discipline, multidisciplinary teams or health professionals with peer supporters resulted in improved outcomes in HbA1c.

The study noted that the lack of statistical significance in all but two subgroup analyses may indicate that other factors, such as peer identification and group interactions, are the active ingredient that influence the effectiveness of any group based intervention in type 2 diabetes. Most studies were also classified as having a moderate or high risk for bias.

‘The study resulted in statistically significant improvements in HbA1c, fasting blood glucose, body weight, waist circumference, triglycerides and diabetes knowledge,’ said Kate Odgers-Jewell, a sessional teaching fellow at the University’s Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine.

But she added that the results may not be clinically important and further research is needed to explore the effects of peer identification, normalisation and group interactions on the effectiveness of group based education interventions for the management of type 2 diabetes.

‘The potential advantages of group based education interventions over individual visits include time for the provision of more detailed information, decreased time demands on health workers, easily incorporating families and careers, and facilitating discussions and support from others facing the same challenges. Clearly, the use of group-based education warrants further investigation,’ she concluded.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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