Telephone Counseling Can Help Lower Blood Sugar Levels

Getting on the phone with someone who can help you with diabetes management could lead to better blood sugar control, according to a recent study at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Researchers found that periodic telephone counseling was a highly effective and low-cost way to lower blood sugar levels in minority, urban adults.

"People with diabetes need ongoing counseling about problem-solving and goal-setting for behavior change," said Dr. Elizabeth A. Walker, the study's lead author.

The main takeaway of the research, Walker said, is that medications and instruction pamphlets aren't enough for most people to maintain good blood sugar control - but that one-on-one support and attention can help improve outcomes.

Having a long-term plan

The study included 941 adults with diabetes who were all mailed printed materials on diabetes management.

Half of the participants received telephone sessions with educators from the Health Department about how to maintain medication adherence, eat well and exercise right.

At the end of the study, researchers found that those who received the telephone intervention - and who initially had high blood sugar levels - had lower A1c levels by about 2.1 percentage points.

"Meeting people where they are and working on a long-term plan together is the best way to make gains in chronic disease," said Dr. Shadi Chamany, study author. "An intervention like this can be adopted by health systems and other organizations looking to improve diabetes outcomes through diabetes self-management interventions."

The study is published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Source: Albert Einstein College of Medicine

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