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Diabetes patients improve quickly with monthly care, study says

Diabetics who receive regularly scheduled monthly care to learn how to improve their health have a more rapid recovery compared with similar patients who receive only sporadic healthcare visits, according to new research.

The study, published Tuesday in the journal Diabetes Care, shows in stark contrast the difference between engaging patients in their own care and leaving them to their own devices. Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston looked at data from more than 30,000 people with diabetes and who had high blood glucose, high blood pressure or high cholesterol. The patients were followed for seven years.

The patients who received once-monthly counseling as part of their primary care visits needed an average of only 3.9 weeks to reach their target goals for blood sugar, blood pressure or cholesterol. That compared with an average of 13.5 months for people who received counseling only once every one to six months. The study controlled for other factors that affect health improvement, such as the patients’ medication regimens.

Monthly counseling “clearly . . . gets people to goals faster than when they are not given continued encouragement and information on how to increase physical activity levels, eat properly and reduce lipids,” the lead author of the study, Dr. Alexander Turchin, said in a news release.

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Too few people with diabetes receive intensive lifestyle counseling, the authors said. Since this type of counseling is time-consuming, doctors may need to find better ways to provide the help, such as through group visits or via nurse practitioners.

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