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Diabetes advice "failing to reach patients"

Clinicians think they are giving much more healthy living advice to people with diabetes than patients think they are getting, according to new research.

The research found that almost all clinicians (99.6 per cent) say they routinely talk about physical activity with people with diabetes who are overweight, while 88 per cent said they advise them about their diet. Yet less than half of overweight patients with diabetes (45 per cent) said a doctor had talked to them about physical activity during the previous year, while for diet advice the figure was 57 per cent.

Increased risk of complications

Simon O’Neill, Director of Care, Policy and Intelligence at Diabetes UK, said, "Whether someone has Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, it is important that if they are overweight then they know they are at an increased risk of devastating complications such as heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease or amputation. They also need to be aware of how to reduce the risk of these complications occurring.

"This is why it is a concern that doctors think they are giving people with diabetes who are overweight significantly more lifestyle advice than the patients themselves say they are getting. We hope this research highlights the importance of doctors making sure their advice to people with diabetes is crystal clear and jargon free.

"It is clear from this research that doctors understand the important role they have in giving people with diabetes information about how to manage their condition, but if this is not getting through then that is a real missed opportunity."

The study, which was funded by Diabetes UK, was led by Newcastle University and is being presented at this week’s Diabetes UK Professional Conference 2012. Diabetes UK has recently confirmed funding for the Newcastle team to further investigate the factors that influence the quality of care received by people with Type 2 diabetes.

Advice not being heard

Dr Gillian Hawthorne, the lead researcher in the study, said, "We are very surprised by just how much difference there was in patient and clinician feedback.

"Clearly, doctors are committed to give people with diabetes the right guidance but all too often this advice is not being heard by the patient.  We need to look into how the right messages get across clearly."

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