Social support in type II diabetes care: a case of too little, too late

Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes. 2012;5:407-17. doi: 10.2147/DMSO.S37183. Epub 2012 Nov 22.

Abstract

Coping with type II diabetic patients is increasingly posing large financial burdens, sorely felt especially by growing economies. Self-management has been found to be an effective approach towards maintaining good control in diabetics. However, although efforts at implementing self-management have had initial success, there has been a lack of sustainability. This review examines the different components impinging on self-care among type II diabetic patients. These include the critical role of social support, the need for support from health care providers, the value of support from family and friends, the influence of sex and cultural factors in self-care behavior, the benefits of peer support, and the role of literacy in diabetes self-care. Despite the mounting evidence for the effectiveness of social support in diabetes care, and the various stakeholders including this in their clinical guidelines, there has only been a lukewarm response from policy-makers towards ensuring its implementation. Hence, more effort is required from health care providers in moving away from just understanding the effects of new drugs and subsequently putting their patients on these drugs, and going back to the basics of communicating with the patients, understanding their woes, and helping to motivate/empower their patients. This paper analyzes the various components of social support, their influence on diabetes self-care, and how health care providers can help in this process.

Keywords: self-management/self-care; social support; type II diabetes mellitus.