For diabetics, health coaching may be the answer

Public health campaigns aimed at raising awareness about diabetes are all well and good, a new study reports, but motivational health coaching may improve outcomes signficantly more for high-risk populations.

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen found that diabetics who were given personal health coaching over the course of a six-month period - which focused on diet, stress management, or dental care - were more likely to have decreased long-range blood sugar levels. The control group, who received traditional health information through tactics like brochures had no changes in blood sugar, the author reported.

"Moreover, the patients in the coaching group expressed markedly increased self-efficacy in relation to handling illness and health issues," said Assistant Professor and authorized coach Ayse Basak Cinar from the Department of Odontology at the University of Copenhagen.

Diabetics are at a higher risk for having oral health problems, the authors noted, and the health coaching appeared to also reduce markers for periodontitis.

Ineffective strategies are costing lives

The authors explained that while health coaching can be a resource-intensive strategy, other methods that involve pamphlets or brochures are costly too - especially when they don't work.

"Ineffective health communication due to a lack of creativity results in massive and costly problems for society," sais Lone Schou, from the Department of Odontology. "The patients we are in contact with are often both socially and financially vulnerable, and for them health coaching and follow-up can make a considerable and marked difference, both to their physical and mental health."

The researchers are going to replicate the study in Turkey, and they are curious as to how the results will resemble those seen in the Danish study.

More about the research can be found in the journal Clinical Oral Investigations.

Source: Science Daily

Photo by Javier Layus

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