By: Ben Eastman
A recent survey of diabetes educators found that they feel the telephone is a valuable tool to help patients with their diabetes care regimes. However, the survey also determined that years of experience and certification were factors that significantly affected the topics covered in their phone conversations.
The authors of the survey note in the May/June issue of The Diabetes Educator that 91 percent of educators completing the survey reported making or receiving an average of 15 telephone calls per week. Nearly all (99 percent) reported using the phone as an adjunct to face-to-face diabetes education programs and to answer patient questions. The topics most commonly reported being discussed include: blood glucose monitoring (96 percent), insulin use (92 percent), diet (91 percent), hyperglycemia (86 percent), hypoglycemia (85 percent), and dosing of insulin or hypoglycemic agents (70 percent).
Educators expressed their opinion that patients received emotional support from phone conversations, and 76 percent feel that their clients “opened up and talked more easily over the phone.” Educators also expressed having better rapport with clients they spoke to on the phone. Nearly all (96 percent) of the educators feel that phone conversations help them monitor their patients’ progress in their self-care treatment, and 93 percent agreed that telephone contact helped them investigate problems that clients might be having with those treatments.
Survey respondents with the most diabetes education experience and accreditation/education were far more likely to have calls in which they intervened in self-care practices (i.e. recommended insulin and hypoglycemic agents doses and exercise). The authors recommend that, “Rather than waiting until novice [educators] gain the necessary experience, guidelines for telephone contact could be developed.” They recommend that these guidelines should help less experienced educators determine what topics should be covered most often and what should be asked when patients present particular problems.