NDEP Survey: More people knowledgeable about diabetes, despite underappreciation of its seriousness

  • August 7, 2013

PHILADELPHIA — Much to the surprise of diabetes educators here, the number of people who consider diabetes a serious disease has declined slightly. Many people are still unaware of its deleterious nature or that it could be delayed or prevented, according to survey results presented here at the American Association of Diabetes Educators Annual Meeting and Exhibition.

According to Linda Siminerio, PhD, BSN, RN, CDE, FAAN, of the University of Pittsburgh, the National Diabetes Education Program was established in 1997 to improve diabetes management and reduce the morbidity and mortality from diabetes and its complications.   

Linda Siminerio, PhD, BSN, RN, CDE, FAAN 

Linda Siminerio

“These survey results provide information that helps the NDEP take the next steps in developing tools, web information and future applications; to develop strategic plans for diabetes educators to use in the primary prevention of diabetes,” Siminerio said during a presentation here.

NDEP survey results

The national probability sample included non-institutionalized adults (aged 45 years and older in 2006; 35 years and older in 2008 and 2011) via households with landline telephones only, according to Siminerio. Participants were categorized as: people with diabetes, people with prediabetes, people at risk and all others.

According to data presented here, people in the >45 years-of-age group self-reported they have heard about HbA1c and prediabetes, and that diabetes could be prevented. However, when asked, many people did not consider diabetes as a serious disease.

“It’s a little disappointing that the number of people who consider diabetes a serious disease] is starting to go down a bit. We need to emphasize the importance of diabetes as a serious disease in all populations. The fact that the number is going down is certainly something we have to pay attention to,” Joanne Gallivan, MS, RD, from the National Institutes of Health, said during the presentation.

People were also asked to weigh-in on what they considered to be serious adverse health outcomes due to diabetes. Blindness was ranked as the most serious, followed by: amputation, kidney disease, heart conditions, death, heart attack, foot ulcers, cardiovascular disease, stroke and hypertension.

“We were surprised people at high risk don’t understand they’re at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. The important message we need to get across is that you can delay or prevent type 2 diabetes,” Gallivan said.

Hispanic and black populations

Data indicate that 61% of Hispanics surveyed in 2008 said they were aware diabetes could be prevented; that number increased to 76% by 2011. Moreover, this population was familiar with the term “prediabetes” (31% in 2008 vs. 50% in 2011), had heard of a blood test for diabetes (89% in 2008 vs. 94% in 2011) or HbA1c (34% in 2008 vs. 42% in 2011), and had their HbA1c checked at least once in the prior 12 months (42% in 2008 vs. 56% in 2011), according to data.

Data also indicate 70% of blacks surveyed in 2008 said they were aware diabetes could be prevented vs. 86% of blacks in 2011. Only 32% of this population was familiar with the term “prediabetes” in 2008 vs. 39% in 2011. However, there was no change in the number of black people who considered diabetes a serious disease (93% in 2008 and 2011), Siminerio said.

“That is really abysmal. We have a lot of work to do to communicate prediabetes to this population,” she said.

The majority of people who were surveyed said advice they most frequently followed from a health professional was to: reduce fat intake, take aspirin and lose weight. Plans for a revised survey are underway, according to the presenters. – by Samantha Costa

For more information:

Siminerio L. #W01. Presented at: American Association of Diabetes Educators Annual Meeting and Exhibition; August 7-10; Philadelphia.

Disclosure: Siminerio reports participation in the Sanofi Research Study. Gallivan reports no relevant financial disclosures.

Alicia Downs, RN

Alicia Downs

  • I found this presentation to be helpful because there are important areas we tend to take for granted. The actual numbers allow us to have data to build from; to know where we really need to be teaching, where we may be over teaching another area. Perhaps we’re not saying enough or not in the correct way. Without the hard data of surveys such as these, we don’t know how to improve our best practices.

    • Alicia Downs, RN
    • Long-term care provider
      Elkton, MD
  • Disclosures: Downs reports no relevant financial disclosures.


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