Doctor, Patient Need to Manage Diabetes Together

Agreement on goals and strategies improves disease care

SATURDAY, Dec. 6, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- If you have diabetes, you should work closely with your doctor on managing your disease.

A University of Michigan Health System study found diabetes management improves when patients and their doctors agree on treatment goals and strategies. But the study also found that few people with diabetes agree with their doctor's top three goals and strategies.

For example, patients were more likely than their doctors to list avoiding insulin and getting off medications as their priorities. Doctors were more likely to list lowering patient blood pressure or cholesterol levels as their main goals.

"With chronic diseases, the bulk of treatment has to be carried out by patients, at home, between office visits," lead author Dr. Michele Heisler, a lecturer in the university's internal medicine department, says in a prepared statement.

"And because there are many different things that have to be done -- and many tough behavioral changes -- patients are more likely to be successful if they and their doctors agree on and target specific changes. Besides knowing their medicine, doctors have to be better coaches for their patients," Heisler says.

The study of 127 patient-doctor pairs found that only 5 percent agreed on the top treatment goals and 10 percent agreed on all three treatment strategies, which might include getting more exercise or eating fewer fatty and sweet foods. Nearly 20 percent of the patient-doctor pairs did not agree on any of their top three treatment goals.

There were some encouraging results. Three of five patients agreed with their doctors on at least one treatment goal and more than 50 percent agreed on one treatment strategy with their doctor. The study found that 55 percent of the patients included their doctor's leading goal and strategy among their top three.

The study appears in a recent issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about how to control diabetes.

SOURCE: University of Michigan Health System, news release, November 2003
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