Elderly couple planning


As one of the most common chronic diseases, diabetes is an everyday reality for an estimated 23.1 million people in the United States. While healthcare professionals provide regular monitoring, the majority of care and disease management is a result of individual lifestyle choices in the home and community. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Diabetes Statistics Report estimated 84.1 million adults 18 years and older have pre-diabetes with another 7.2 million people who have diabetes and remain undiagnosed and unaware. An infographic is available from the CDC to provide a snapshot of diabetes in the United States.

Carol is a South Dakotan who has lived with type 2 diabetes for seventeen years. She experienced various phases of the disease and managing her health was still a struggle. When she learned about a chronic disease self-management program during her Cosmopolitan Club meeting, she realized it was time to take action.

“I knew this was a program that my husband and I could attend together,” Carol added. “We both could benefit from the techniques taught, me to manage my diabetes and him to control his hypertension.”

The highest rates of diabetes are found among minority populations and older Americans. Risk factors for complications include smoking, overweight and obesity, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood glucose.

“The purpose of the Better Choices, Better Health (BCBH) workshops is to teach individuals with pre-diabetes or diabetes to manage their health and symptoms,” added Denise Kolba, program manager for Great Plains Quality Innovation Network (QIN). “The tools and skills shared in the workshop give participants the confidence and ability to make changes to improve their health and lives.”

Surveys collected before and after workshops held throughout South Dakota in the past year showed individuals enrolled in Medicare who completed the six-week program showed improvement in the following areas:

  • 54% – Improved ability to find healthy ways to handle stress related to their diabetes
  • 52% – improved exercise habits with a goal of 30 minutes/day
  • 45% – Improved fruit and vegetable consumption with a goal of 5 or more servings
  • 42% – Improved number of days they check their feet
  • 28% – Improved confidence to make a plan with goals that will help control their diabetes

Healthcare professionals provide customized disease and treatment education for each individual. Following through with recommendation to improve their overall health requires daily discipline. Self-management education workshops provide the tools and support for individuals struggling to make the necessary behavior change to manage or prevent diabetes.

“In writing down our weekly Action Plans and making them a part of our busy schedules, we found that having smaller, more achievable goals, was a much better method of realizing our overall objective of better health,” Carol added. “Now when one of us reaches for the salt shaker or a cookie, we remember the lessons taught and instead reach for a healthier alternative.”

BCBH teaches proven methods to achieve change including goal setting, eating right and exercising. Led by a master trainer and lay leader, each two-and-a-half hour session also provides the opportunity to share experiences and struggles with other members of the group.

The Great Plains QIN has been working with public health organizations and healthcare systems in our region to promote chronic disease and diabetes self-management education workshops.   Numerous staff members are certified trainers and provide assistance to organizations and health care facilities interested in coordinating and referring individuals with pre-diabetes and diabetes. Additional details on diabetes self-management education options and the diabetes care initiative can be found on the Great Plains QIN Web site.