Study finds diabetes patients often miss crucial disease information

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In a significant study conducted in Portugal, researchers set out to measure the level of understanding that individuals with type 2 diabetes (T2D) have regarding their condition.

This chronic disease, marked by the body’s inefficiency in producing or using insulin, affects millions worldwide and requires knowledgeable management to prevent severe consequences like heart disease or limb amputation.

The findings, published in Frontiers in Public Health, underscore the urgent need for improved diabetes education among patients.

Led by Professor Pedro Lopes Ferreira, the team at the University of Coimbra aimed to diminish the gap in diabetes knowledge among patients. Their motivation was clear: to arm patients with the necessary information to manage their diabetes effectively.

They utilized a diabetes knowledge test, touching on various aspects such as nutrition, symptom identification, and medication management, to assess the awareness levels of 1,200 diabetic individuals, nearly 40% of whom were insulin-dependent.

The study revealed a promising note with more than 71% of participants demonstrating a good grasp of dietary considerations and over 80% acknowledging the benefits of physical activity. A similar majority understood the best practices for blood sugar testing.

However, the research highlighted significant gaps in other critical areas. Only about 12.8% knew the correct food item to use for treating low blood sugar levels, and a mere 4.4% could identify the symptoms of ketoacidosis, a dangerous complication of T2D.

These disparities in knowledge, according to Lopes Ferreira, might stem from the focus areas chosen by healthcare professionals when educating patients.

The study also found that non-insulin treated patients had a lower rate of correct answers (51.8%) compared to those using insulin (58.7%).

Factors such as age below 65, higher education levels, living with others, and adherence to specific diets were associated with better disease understanding.

The findings not only pinpoint the necessity for comprehensive education on monitoring blood sugar levels and managing the disease but also call attention to the urgent need to address these knowledge gaps.

The research team believes that more extensive studies could further clarify the impact of socioeconomic and clinical factors on diabetes knowledge.

Ultimately, this study emphasizes the importance of shifting patient education beyond mere biological indicators to encompass a deeper understanding of their condition.

By doing so, healthcare professionals can empower patients with the knowledge needed to navigate the complexities of T2D management, ultimately leading to better health outcomes and quality of life for those affected by this widespread condition.

If you care about diabetes, please read studies that eating more eggs is linked to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, and how to eat to reduce heart disease death risk if you have diabetes.

For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies about high-protein diets linked to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, and results showing Mediterranean diet could help reduce the diabetes risk by one-third.

The research findings can be found in Frontiers in Public Health.

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