Diabetes support groups improve health care of older diabetic patients

J Am Geriatr Soc. 1992 Feb;40(2):147-50. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.1992.tb01935.x.


Objective: To assess whether knowledge or psychosocial and glycemic benefits of a diabetes education program are enhanced by a support group for older patients.

Design: A partially randomized controlled trial involving two groups of patients: Group A, subjects who received an education program followed by 18 months of support group sessions; Group B, only the diabetes education program. A third convenience sample, Group C, received neither intervention. Groups A and B were assessed before and immediately after the education program, and all groups were assessed 2 years after the education program.

Setting: Diabetes clinic at a Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Patients: All subjects were male (mean age = 68 +/- 1.3 years, range = 57-82 years; duration of diabetes = 10 +/- 2 years, range 3-16). Sample sizes were 11 in Group A, 13 in Group B, and 8 in Group C.

Intervention: The education program consisted of six weekly sessions covering aspects of diabetes self-care. The support group consisted of 18 monthly sessions for continuing education, discussion, and structured social activities.

Outcome measures: Diabetes knowledge, psychosocial factors (self-care-related quality of life, stress, family involvement in care, and social involvement), depression, and glycemic control.

Results: Group A scored better (at least P less than 0.05) on knowledge, quality of life, and depression than the other groups. Groups A and B showed less stress, greater family involvement, better glycemic control, but less involvement in social activities than Group C.

Conclusion: Diabetes education programs can have long term benefits on knowledge, psychosocial functioning, and glycemic control for older diabetic patients. The addition of support groups enhances diabetes knowledge and psychosocial functioning.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Depression / etiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus / psychology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / therapy
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A / analysis
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Quality of Life
  • Self-Help Groups*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A