Objective: To promote the role of the diabetes educator as an important team member in conjunction with the patient and other clinicians in optimizing diabetes management.
Methods: The goal of the diabetes educator in facilitating changes in patient behavior is reviewed, and current trends and strategies for improvement of outcomes by means of diabetes education are outlined.
Results: The American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) is a multidisciplinary group of healthcare professionals dedicated to the professional growth and development of personnel who are responsible for diabetes education. Diabetes management is best addressed by using a team approach in a patient-centered care environment. Diabetes education encompasses more than the dissemination of information; the goal is to facilitate changes in specific behaviors relating to both therapy and lifestyle that support good diabetes management and improved clinical outcomes. Diabetes educators currently frame their intervention on the basis of the AADE 7 Self-Care Behaviors: (1) healthful eating, (2) being active, (3) monitoring, (4) taking medication, (5) problem-solving, (6) healthful coping, and (7) reducing risks. Diabetes education is underutilized; approximately 60% to 70% of patients with diabetes have not received training in diabetes self-management. Diabetes educators are trained to identify and help overcome barriers to optimal diabetes care.
Conclusion: Individual patients and the overall health-care system will benefit when physicians and other health-care providers collaborate with diabetes educators to ensure that patients receive the information, training, and support needed to facilitate effective diabetes self-management.