The Diabetes Educator and the Diabetes Self-management Education Engagement: The 2015 National Practice Survey

Diabetes Educ. 2015 Oct;41(5):616-24. doi: 10.1177/0145721715599268. Epub 2015 Aug 24.


Purpose: The National Practice Study (NPS) is conducted biannually to assess current diabetes education practices in the United States with the goal of understanding current trends in the work in which diabetes educators engage.

Methods: The 2015 NPS contained 54 questions about the individuals providing diabetes education, people with diabetes participating in education, and programs providing the education. The survey was sent electronically to approximately 21 975 people who were members of the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) or who were Certified Diabetes Educators with the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators but were not currently AADE members. In addition, both the AADE and the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators promoted participation in the NPS via social media. The combination of efforts resulted in completion of the survey by 4855 respondents. Testing was completed with a significance level of 0.05 or 95% confidence.

Results: Diabetes educators continue to represent a diverse group of health care professionals-nurses (50%), dietitians (35%), pharmacists (6%), and others (6%). By far, the most commonly held credential for the specialty continues to be the Certified Diabetes Educator (86%), with only 5% of survey respondents indicating that they held the Board Certified-Advanced Diabetes Management credential. Diabetes educators are working with individuals across the diabetes continuum, as well as with people who do not have diabetes but have other chronic conditions. The data demonstrate that much of the diabetes educator's work with people with diabetes is beyond the first year of diagnosis. Diabetes educators are increasingly seen to be providing a broader array of the integrated AADE7 Self-Care Behaviors™.

Conclusions: The specialty of diabetes educator continues to be populated by a professionally diverse workforce, meeting the needs of people across a wide spectrum. Diabetes educators can be found providing services in primary prevention of diabetes, education and management for those diagnosed with diabetes, prevention of secondary complications, and more complex management of diabetes and its secondary complications. While diabetes educators were found to work with those newly diagnosed with diabetes, they continue to engage with people with diabetes at various times other than the year that they were diagnosed. There are still issues with participant readiness, as evidenced by program completion rates. Nonetheless, diabetes educators are increasingly seen to be providing the integrated engagement that is needed to better ensure that people with diabetes attain and maintain competency in self-management skills.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Certification / trends*
  • Delivery of Health Care / methods
  • Delivery of Health Care / trends*
  • Diabetes Mellitus*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods
  • Patient Education as Topic / trends*
  • Professional Competence
  • Self Care / trends*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States