Structured self-monitoring helps type 2 diabetics lower blood sugar levels

by Barbara Hewitt on August 20, 2015

A structured, personalized self-monitoring blood glucose schedule can help people with type 2 diabetes even if they don’t require insulin, new research suggests.

As well as lowering blood sugar levels, working with a diabetes educator to create a schedule for blood glucose testing also helps motivate people with type 2 diabetes to eat healthier, be active and take their medications.

Diabetes Forum

Diabetes Forum

The study from the Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, said it answers questions about whether or not there is value in a structured program.

“Participants in this study said that sticking to a regular schedule really helped them to know where their blood levels were and take appropriate action, such as adding physical activity or choosing a healthy snack,” said diabetes educator Dana Brackney, assistant professor of nursing at the university. “They said it helped them accept that they had diabetes, but also feel confident that they could control it rather than letting it control them”

The small scale study involved 11 participants who were give personalised, structured schedules that would provide the most helpful information to patients and their medical teams.

The majority found self-monitoring twice a day to be most helpful in providing meaningful information regarding their blood sugar levels relevant to meals and activity, but there was room for individualization based on the individual’s lifestyle and needs. For example, a patient might check twice a day three days a week instead of checking once a day seven days a week.

“Diabetes educators can help patients work around barriers to find a personalized testing plan that makes sense for them. They help patients learn when and why blood glucose levels were most problematic and to confront those situations head on by developing a plan to be healthier,” Brackney said.

Although it was not the focus of the study, the 11 participants lowered their A1C blood glucose levels from an average of 7.3% to an average of 6.2%. In patients with diabetes, the goal is to keep A1C levels below 7%.

Researchers found that patients in the study would react to their schedule readings by eating a little less, or going for a walk. The study confirmed that patients do react to their test results and make positive changes, which many health care providers didn’t think would happen, Brackney explained.

“Testing helped patients see that they were benefitting by taking charge of their diabetes, including by taking their medication, eating right and being active. This study helps doctors and nurses to understand how people with type 2 diabetes can benefit from a structured schedule,” said Brackney.

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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