Diabetes Self-Management

The Diabetes Self-Management workshop is given 2½ hours once a week for six weeks, in various community settings such as churches, community centers, libraries and hospitals. People with type 2 diabetes attend the workshop in groups of 12-16. Workshops are facilitated from a highly detailed manual by two trained Peer Leaders, one or both of whom have 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. 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, diabetes educators, dietitians, and other health professionals both at Stanford and in the community have reviewed all materials in the workshop.

Each participant receives a copy of the companion book, Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions. 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.

Developed by Stanford University

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.

Six months after the workshop, participants had significant improvements in depression, symptoms of hypoglycemia, communication with physicians, healthy eating, and reading food labels. They also had significant improvements in patient activation and self-efficacy. At 12 months, DSMP participants continued to demonstrate improvements in depression, communication with physicians, healthy eating, patient activation, and self-efficacy. There were no significant changes in utilization or A1C (A1C values were already in the desirable range at the beginning of the study for most participants).

Benefits for Participants

Diabetes Self Management is an effective compliment to the clinical work performed by health care professionals. While professionals educate their patients on what they need to do to manage their health conditions, through DSMP, patients develop the skills to effectively act upon practitioner recommendations.  The program is based on self-efficacy theory and emphasizes problem solving, decision-making, and confidence building.

Does the Workshop 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 or diabetes educators. If the content of the workshop conflicts with instructions they receive elsewhere, they are advised to follow their physicians’ orders and discuss discrepancies with the physician.

Workshop Goal – Helps people of all ages with diabetes
  • Choose healthy behaviors they would like to follow and strategies for incorporating these behaviors into their daily lives.
  • Improve participants’ health status – they report feeling better up to 12 months after the workshop
  • Decrease number of days hospitalized and emergency room visits