The Diabetes Self-Management Program

The Diabetes Self-Management workshop is given 2½ hours once a week for six weeks, in community settings such as churches, community centers, libraries and hospitals.

People with type 2 diabetes attend the program in groups of 12-16. Workshops are facilitated from a highly detailed manual by two trained Leaders, one or both of whom are peer leaders with diabetes themselves.

Subjects covered include: 1) techniques to deal with the symptoms of diabetes, fatigue, pain, hyper/hypoglycemia, stress, and emotional problems such as depression, anger, fear and frustration; 2) appropriate exercise for maintaining and improving strength and endurance; 3) healthy eating 4) appropriate use of medication; and 5) working more effectively with health care providers.

Diabetes specific topics include:   what is diabetes; monitoring; formula for healthy eating plan; preventing low blood sugar: hypoglycemia; preventing or delaying complications; planning low fat meals; reading nutrition labels; strategies for sick days; and foot care.

Participants will make weekly action plans, share experiences, and help each other solve problems they encounter in creating and carrying out their self-management program. Physicians and other health professionals both at Stanford and in the community have reviewed all materials in the course.

Each participant in the workshop receives a copy of the companion book, Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions, and an audio relaxation tape, and an audio exercise tape.*

It is the process in which the program is taught that makes it effective. Classes are highly participative, where mutual support and success build the participants’ confidence in their ability to manage their health and maintain active and fulfilling lives.

Does the Program replace existing programs and treatments?

The program does not conflict with existing programs or treatment. Treatment is not altered. For medical questions, participants are referred to their physicians. If the content of the course conflicts with instructions they receive elsewhere, they are advised to follow their physicians’ orders and discuss discrepancies with the physician.

How was the programs developed?

The original Diabetes Self-Management Program was developed in Spanish. After successful outcomes were found with that program, the Stanford Patient Education Research Center received a grant from the California HealthCare Foundation for the randomized, controlled study to test the workshop’s effectiveness for English-speakers. The study was completed in 2008.

Results from the Spanish program, showed that the program participants, as compared with usual-care control subjects, demonstrated improved health status, health behavior, and self-efficacy, as well as fewer emergency room visits at four months. At one year, the improvements were maintained and remained significantly different from baseline condition.