Every day 50 New Zealanders are newly diagnosed with diabetes. This is an epidemic which is expected to grow.
Despite this grim outlook, diabetes is one chronic disease where effective self-management can make a real difference to the prognosis of the condition.
Understanding how to engage and work with people living with diabetes and their families is a key research focus for Christchurch’s Centre for Postgraduate Nursing Studies.
Centre director Associate Professor Lisa Whitehead says a recently completed study compared the effectiveness of two educational interventions versus normal care for those with diabetes and blood glucose levels outside of the recommended range.
One intervention involved nurses delivering an education package to small groups of patients, a total of seven hours of education about diabetes, such as recognising hypo- and hyper-glycaemic states, exercise and diet.
The second intervention included three hours of the same education content, plus acceptance and commitment therapy, a form of cognitive behavioural therapy. One aspect of this approach is “mindfulness”, which promotes moment-to-moment awareness of present events as well as techniques for remembering to be aware of something in the future.
Whitehead says those who experienced the education-only intervention showed significant improvement in keeping their blood glucose within the normal range, up to six months after intervention. Further research is required to develop the intervention which offers potential for practice nurses New Zealand-wide.
Whitehead says other centre staff and students are exploring self-adjustment of insulin, sense of identity following diagnosis of diabetes, and the management of diabetes for those with intellectual disabilities.