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Newly Diagnosed? Why Support Is Crucial

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can bring a wave of emotions, ranging from surprise and shock to anxiety, fear, frustration, and guilt. While most chronic diseases involve some level of self-management, diabetes in particular involves a lot of self-management. Every day, people with diabetes must take medications, check their blood sugar, and consider carbohydrate counts for the foods they eat. 

Diabetes self-management is a lot to handle, especially for adults who may already have a lot of responsibility or are undergoing changes in other parts of life. Although everyone’s experience with diabetes is unique, new research shows just how common it is for adults with recently diagnosed diabetes to experience emotional distress as they transition to self-management. 

Adults with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes lack support to transition to self-management

new study found that adults who were recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes felt unsupported in transitioning to self-management shortly after being diagnosed. This lack of support led to feelings of emotional distress

The researchers highlighted four key takeaways from the study: 

  • Study participants experienced emotional distress and said they felt discomfort about seeing a diabetes care and education specialist (CDCES)
  • Participants didn’t have enough information or support to transition to self-management, making emotional distress worse
  • While transitioning to self-management, participants sought out support from a variety of sources, including family, friends, co-workers, the Internet, YouTube, and books
  • Participants said they wanted support for self-management right after diagnosis to improve the transition 

These findings show that the transition phase of diabetes can be quite challenging. The study results highlight the need for more resources to support adults shortly after their diagnosis with type 2 diabetes. 

It’s important to see studies like this on the lived experience of people with diabetes. Future studies will help the field better understand how best to support newly diagnosed adults with type 2 diabetes. 

Diabetes education is a key part of supporting self-management 

Diabetes self-management education and support (DSMES) is an important resource for anyone recently diagnosed with diabetes. The role of diabetes educators is to work with patients as well as healthcare providers such as general practitioners, endocrinologists, nurses, and dietitians to help people create individualized strategies to manage their diabetes. 

Diabetes educators consider many different factors – such as medications, lifestyle, eating habits, and cultural and social influences – to develop a plan for an individual person with diabetes. Diabetes educators also teach basic skills to manage diabetes, such as what foods to eat, how to count carbohydrates, and how to dose insulin. 

People with type 2 diabetes should receive DSMES at four key times

  1. At diagnosis
  2. Once a year (or more often) if someone is not meeting their treatment goals
  3. If health complications arise – both diabetes-related complications and onset of other new health conditions
  4. When transitions in life and care arise – such as a move, new job, or when switching healthcare providers

Many people with diabetes, especially those who are under-resourced, do not know about the benefits of DSMES. Indeed, research shows that just 5% of people on Medicare currently receive DSMES. 

Not all healthcare providers will bring up DSMES at your appointments, so we encourage you to inquire about an individualized diabetes self-management plan with your care team. You can ask your healthcare provider for a referral or use this handy tool to find a diabetes care and education specialist near you. Most insurance plans and Medicare cover DSMES programs with a referral from your healthcare team.

Additional resources for adults newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes

If you have been recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and are feeling uncertain about what steps to take, check out the resources below.

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