October 2014 Issue

It Takes a Village
By Judith Riddle
Today’s Dietitian
Vol. 16 No. 10 P. 5

One of the keynote addresses I attended in August at the American Association of Diabetes Educators annual meeting urged all certified diabetes educators (CDEs) to place just as much importance on the emotional aspects of diabetes care as they do on nutrition and other self-management behaviors.

Based on findings from the Diabetes Attitudes Wishes and Needs (DAWN2) study, which examined family members’ concerns, patient engagement, psychosocial and self-management issues, and diabetes-related distress in 8,596 diabetes patients in 17 countries, Martha Funnell, MS, RN, CDE, an associate research scientist at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, discussed the prevalence of these challenges and offered practical strategies to address them.

According to the study, 45% of subjects reported suffering from emotional distress due to diabetes, and 14% said they had depression. Forty percent of family members experienced great distress related to concerns about relatives with diabetes, and 35% were substantially burdened from caring for a relative with the disease. The study also showed a lack of engagement and participation in self-care among patients; one-half of all subjects never participated in a diabetes education program, but 81% of those who did found it helpful, and health care practitioners wanted more training in diabetes care.

To address these issues successfully and improve diabetes management, Funnell said it will “take a village,” meaning patients and families, organizations and communities, decision makers and payers, and health care practitioners must play a role. Diabetes educators can begin by encouraging patients to ask for needed support, educating and providing resources to families so they can help loved ones, providing outlets of psychosocial support, and involving patients and families as equal partners when developing new care solutions.

In this issue, the feature article “5 Uncommon Diabetes Diagnoses” discusses the underlying pathology of rare types of diabetes, how they’re diagnosed, and strategies for counseling patients, which provide other opportunities to care for patients’ emotional health.

Be sure to read the other articles on the top questions vegetarians ask RDs, snacks for the fall season, blueberries’ health benefits, and the role of vitamin D in fall prevention.

If you’re attending the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo this year, I’ll see you in Atlanta. Please enjoy the rest of the issue!

Judith Riddle