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Patient Knowledge Improves Glycemic Control: Is It Time to Go Back to the Classroom?
  1. Srinivas Panja,
  2. Brian Starr,
  3. Kathleen M. Colleran
  1. From the Department of Medicine (S.P., B.S., K.M.C.), University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM. Presented in part at the Western Regional American Federation of Medical Research, in Carmel, CA, by Srinivas Panja on January 30, 2004.
  1. Address correspondence to: Dr. Kathleen Colleran, Internal Medicine, MSC10 550, 1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131; tel: 505-272-4658; fax: 505-272-5155; e-mail kcolleran{at}salud.unm.edu.

Abstract

Background Over the last two decades, pharmaceutical intervention for the treatment of type 2 diabetes has expanded. Studies over this same time demonstrated the benefits of tight glycemic control. Unfortunately, despite the availability of novel therapies, glycemic control remains problematic. Nonpharmacologic interventions need to be explored, including patient empowerment. Improving patient knowledge of diabetes may ultimately improve glycemic control. To test this hypothesis, we compared patients' diabetes knowledge with their glycemic control.

Methods The Michigan Diabetes Knowledge Test, designed by the University of Michigan, was administered to patients with type 2 diabetes at three University of New Mexico primary care clinics. Patient records were reviewed. The most recent hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) value was recorded. The data were analyzed using linear regression analysis.

Results Seventy-seven patients completed surveys and had HbA1c values available. Only questions 1 to 14 of the 23-question survey were used because they pertained specifically to type 2 diabetes. HbA1c was inversely correlated with the number of questions answered correctly on the test (r = -.337, p < .003). Using “all subsets” regression, a correct response to questions 1, 3, and 9 specifically correlated with a lower HbA1c (p < .0001).

Conclusions These results demonstrate that an inverse linear relationship exists between performance on this diabetes test and HbA1c values. Improvement in patient knowledge of diabetes and the importance of treatment may indeed improve glycemic control and ultimately decrease complications. Studies aimed at empowering patients with disease knowledge may help control the ramifications of the growing diabetes epidemic.

Key Words
  • diabetes mellitus
  • glycemic control
  • patient education

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