Purpose: We sought to evaluate the effect of automated telephone assessment and self-care education calls with nurse follow-up on the management of diabetes.
Subjects and methods: We enrolled 280 English- or Spanish-speaking adults with diabetes who were using hypoglycemic medications and who were treated in a county health care system. Patients were randomly assigned to usual care or to receive an intervention that consisted of usual care plus bi-weekly automated assessment and self-care education calls with telephone follow-up by a nurse educator. Outcomes measured at 12 months included survey-reported self-care, perceived glycemic control, and symptoms, as well as glycosylated hemoglobin (Hb A1c) and serum glucose levels.
Results: We collected follow-up data for 89% of enrollees (248 patients). Compared with usual care patients, intervention patients reported more frequent glucose monitoring, foot inspection, and weight monitoring, and fewer problems with medication adherence (all P -0.03). Follow-up Hb A,, levels were 0.3% lower in the intervention group (P = 0.1), and about twice as many intervention patients had Hb A1c levels within the normal range (P = 0.04). Serum glucose levels were 41 mg/dL lower among intervention patients than usual care patients (P = 0.002). Intervention patients also reported better glycemic control (P = 0.005) and fewer diabetic symptoms (P <0.0001 ), including fewer symptoms of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia.
Conclusions: Automated calls with telephone nurse follow-up may be an effective strategy for improving self-care behavior and glycemic control, and for decreasing symptoms among vulnerable patients with diabetes.