US nurses' perceptions of their role in diabetes care: results of the cross-national Diabetes Attitudes Wishes and Needs (DAWN) study

Diabetes Educ. Jan-Feb 2007;33(1):152-62. doi: 10.1177/0145721706298194.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine nurse and physician perceptions of nurse involvement and roles in diabetes care.

Methods: The study used a cross-sectional design with face-to-face or telephone interviews of diabetes health care professionals in 13 countries from Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America. This article focuses on the data from US health care providers. The US sample included 51 generalist nurses, 50 diabetes specialist nurses, 166 generalist physicians, and 50 diabetes specialist physicians.

Results: Nurses and physicians agreed that nurses should take a larger role in managing diabetes. Most common differences identified between nurses and physicians were that nurses provide better education, spend more time with patients, were better listeners, and knew their patients better than physicians. All nurses had a high perceived need for better understanding of psychosocial issues and were more likely than physicians to suggest helping patients to take responsibility for their care. Nurses more than physicians also said better communication was needed. Generalist nurses report that they act as intermediaries and facilitate patient appointment keeping. Specialist nurses talk to patients about self-management, teach medication management, have a higher level of involvement in medication prescribing, and are more willing to take on additional responsibilities than generalist nurses.

Conclusions: There is an increased need for more involvement by nurses, particularly specialist nurses, in diabetes care.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus / nursing*
  • Humans
  • Nurses / psychology*
  • Perception
  • Physicians
  • Social Responsibility