Leicester type 2 diabetes programme significantly improves health outcomes

People who take part in a type 2 diabetes education programme developed in Leicester say it makes them feel “empowered” to manage their condition better.

In a study looking at how people respond to the Diabetes Education and Self-Management for Ongoing and Diagnosed (Desmond) programme, researchers said it “significantly” improved people’s health after completing the course.

Launched in 2003, Desmond was designed to teach people who already have type 2 diabetes the skills necessary to live with the condition.

The research, led by the Leicester Diabetes Centre - a partnership between Leicester’s Hospitals and the University of Leicester - showed that in over 1,670 people with diabetes who completed the course between 2014 and 2015 they had reduced HbA1c levels of about 1 per cent. HbA1c is the name given to average blood sugar readings of someone with diabetes over a period of weeks or months.

Lead researcher Professor Melanie Davies CBE, Professor of Diabetes Medicine at the University of Leicester and Director of the Leicester Diabetes Centre, said: “Diabetes education and self-management programmes are an essential component of diabetes care, but we’ve found uptake is low. However when we offered this course in Leicester in 2014-2015 the majority of patients took the opportunity to attend, and the results were really impressive.

“We believe figures could be significantly increased if doctors are trained sufficiently so they know more about how structured education works and how courses such as Desmond could benefit their patients.

“If not managed properly type 2 diabetes can lead to devastating complications, including blindness, a lost limb or an increased risk of a stroke or heart attack, which is why introducing people to Desmond is so crucial.”

Bernie Stribling, Director of Desmond, said: “These findings are hugely valuable to us as a team, so it’s rewarding to know the programme continues to help people to control their condition. These are real people in a real-world setting in a multi-ethnic UK city.

“We’ve estimated that on average people with type 2 diabetes only see their healthcare professional for three hours a year, making Desmond even more vital to help and encourage people to manage, control and prevent type 2 diabetes.”

Desmond is the collaborative name for a family of group self-management education modules, toolkits and care pathways for people with, or at risk of, type 2 diabetes.

Most Desmond programmes are delivered in a group to increase healthcare professional contact time and also encourage positive interactions between group members.