Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to review the diabetes education literature that has emerged over the past 20 years to determine what we currently know about diabetes self-management interventions and their effectiveness in producing improved health outcomes.
Methods: Findings of studies that were reported prior to 1990 were compared with findings of studies that have been conducted since 1990 to determine what recent changes and patterns in diabetes self-management education have occurred. Future directions in diabetes self-management research and practice were projected from these findings.
Results: Most studies lacked adequate descriptions of the interventions tested, which precludes replication or application of the most effective strategies to clinical practice. Trends in interventions have evolved from education only to education plus behavioral models, with more attention given to interventions specifically for minority populations. The interventions that have been designed and tested seem to be longer, with more emphasis on simple, practical approaches to diabetes self-management.
Conclusions: The literature supports the effectiveness of diabetes education and behavioral interventions in improving psychosocial and health outcomes. The question of how to best achieve these improved outcomes continues to need further exploration.