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Nelson KM, McFarland L, Reiber G. Factors influencing disease self-management among veterans with diabetes and poor glycemic control. Journal of general internal medicine. 2007 Apr 1; 22(4):442-7.
SPECIFIC AIM: Although the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has made significant organizational changes to improve diabetes care, diabetes self-management has received limited attention. The purpose of this study is to assess factors influencing diabetes self-management among veterans with poorly controlled diabetes. METHODS: Surveys were mailed to patients with type 2 diabetes and a HbA1c of 8% or greater who attended 1 of 2 VA Medical Centers in Washington State (n = 1,286). Validated survey instruments assessed readiness to change, self-efficacy, provider advice, and diabetes self-care practices. RESULTS: Our response rate was 56% (n = 717). Most respondents reported appropriate advice from physicians regarding physical activity, nutrition, and glucose monitoring (73%, 92%, and 98%, respectively), but many were not ready to change self-management behaviors. Forty-five percent reported non-adherence to medications, 42% ate a high-fat diet, and only 28% obtained either moderate or vigorous physical activity. The mean self-efficacy score for diabetes self-care was low and half of the sample reported readiness to change nutrition (52%) or physical activity (51%). Individuals with higher self-efficacy scores were more likely to adhere to medications, follow a diabetic meal plan, eat a lower fat diet, have higher levels of physical activity, and monitor their blood sugars (P < .001 for all). CONCLUSIONS: Although veterans with poor diabetes control receive appropriate medical advice, many were not sufficiently confident or motivated to make and maintain self-management changes. Targeted patient-centered interventions may need to emphasize increasing self-efficacy and readiness to change to further improve VA diabetes outcomes.