FRIDAY, June 10, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Simply educating diabetics about their condition doesn't seem to improve their blood sugar control or reduce their likelihood for risk factors such as obesity, researchers report.
"We have long assumed that if we educate patients and make them an active partner in the treatment of their disease, we should be able to dramatically improve their ability to take care of their disease," researcher Dr. Carlos Sanchez said in a prepared statement.
"However, in our study, we found no relationship between patients' knowledge of their disease and improvements in the indicators for cardiovascular risk factors," he said. Sanchez led the study while he was a medical student at Duke University Clinical Research Institute, in Durham, N.C.
His team studied 200 diabetic patients and concluded that their knowledge of diabetes, on its own, didn't lead to improved blood sugar control, weight management, cholesterol levels, or survival.
While diabetes education for patients may be important, there are likely other health care delivery issues that need attention in order to reduce the risk of heart disease death in people with diabetes, the study authors said. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for diabetic patients.
The findings appear in the June issue of the American Journal of Cardiology.
"We spend so many resources on patient education with the assumption that it will make a difference, but what we seem to be finding is that while education may be a part of the puzzle, it is not adequate by itself. Maybe we should step back and take a closer look at how we are spending our resources. One area that could be improved is better implementation of guidelines for increasing the use of medications we know save lives," Sanchez said.
The U.S. National Diabetes Education Program has more about diabetes control.