Online learning for people living with diabetes| Diabetes Qualified

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e-Learning for People Living with Diabetes: The Role of Diabetes Self-Management Education in Today’s Landscape

Introduction

In today’s environment, where misinformation is commonplace, and health education in a face-to-face setting can be difficult to access, there has never been a greater need for credible, evidence-based diabetes education to support diabetes self-management.

Diabetes Self-Management Education (DSME) has been an established treatment intervention in diabetes management for the past 25 years, focusing on shared-decision making and empowerment in self-care behaviour to improve clinical outcomes and quality of life7. The key components of DSME include lifestyle modification to reduce diabetes-related modifiable risk factors such as increased physical activity and healthy eating, medication compliance and blood glucose self-monitoring10. National and international guidelines recommend diabetes self-management education (DSME) as a fundamental component of diabetes care, optimising diabetes outcomes2,3,4.

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, DSME was delivered by health professionals in a face-to-face setting. This has decreased since the pandemic as a result of ongoing lockdowns and social distancing restrictions2. The implications of COVID-19 lockdowns have also negatively impacted behavioural risk factors and quality of life for people living with diabetes1, potentially increasing the risk for diabetes-related complications and poorer long-term health outcomes2.

COVID-19 has been a catalyst for significant developments in the digital health sector over the past couple of years, including the expansion of research into digital education and support programs for people living with or at risk of developing diabetes 2,5,6,9. In response to the growing need for online support services, the National Diabetes Service Scheme (NDSS) has developed a suite of online education and support programs designed to educate, support and foster diabetes self-management. These online programs include; Type 2 diabetes and me, Ready, set, go, let’s move, Carb Counting,  MyDESMOND, and Baby Steps. In addition to these programs, Diabetes NSW & ACT and Diabetes Qualified developed an online program Living with Insulin.

 

Type 2 diabetes and me

Type 2 diabetes and me first launched in 2020, designed to provide information and support to people newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The online program consists of 10 modules, each takes about 15 minutes. Participants can choose one or do all ten modules, based on their interests. The modules cover a range of topics, including:

  • understanding diabetes and symptoms
  • balancing blood glucose levels
  • healthy meal ideas
  • tips to understand food labels
  • diabetes medications
  • details on important diabetes health checks
  • tips to increase physical activity levels
  • support and resources for emotional health

Click here to access Type 2 diabetes and me

Ready, set, go, let’s move online

Ready, set, go, let’s move online is an adapted version of the successful NDSS Ready, set, go, let’s move program. Launched in July 2021, the Ready, set, go, let’s move online program aims to support people living with diabetes to take the next step in becoming (more) physically active.  Research has shown that a modest decrease in weight can positively and significantly improvement insulin sensitivity, glucose levels, blood pressure and stress11. Increasing one’s level of physical activity will allow most people to achieve positive changes in their weight and glycaemic control.

The program consists of four modules, taking approximately 2 hours to complete. The modules include:

  • the benefits of becoming more active and assessing individual activity levels
  • different types of physical activity and how to exercise safely
  • overcome potential stumbling blocks to physical activity
  • learn strategies to incorporate physical activity into sustainable lifestyle habits

Click here to access Ready Set Go Let’s Move Online

 

Carb Counting

Carb Counting, also launched in July 2021, provides basic education about carbohydrates (carbs) and carb counting for people living with diabetes. Research has shown that people who understand carbohydrates and carbohydrate counting have improved glycaemic control12. The Carb Counting program aims to supplement education people receive from their health professional and offers an alternative teaching method for carb awareness and carb counting for those unable to attend face-to-face consultations.

The program has 11 modules covering:

  • common foods and drinks that contain carbohydrates and how they impact blood glucose levels
  • an introduction to carb counting in 10g portions, 15g exchanges, and grams
  • identifying carbohydrates from recipes and food labels
  • tools and resources for carb counting

Click here to access Carb Counting

 

Living with Insulin

Living with Insulin is designed for anyone living with diabetes who is on insulin or who is about to start using insulin. The program has 11 modules, each approximately 15 minutes. Topics include; types of insulin, insulin supplies and storage, insulin injection technique, blood glucose management, emotional health, managing sick days, travel and finding support. The program is also available as an app via scanning a QR code on the Living with Insulin website.

Click here to access Living with Insulin

 

MyDESMOND & Baby Steps

All Australians registered with the National Diabetes Service Scheme (NDSS) are eligible to enrol in the online program.  MyDESMOND is currently available both as an app and on a desktop, comprising of diabetes education, a chat forum and a health tracker.

MyDESMOND Baby Steps was designed as an add-on to the MyDESMOND program and is also a free, online, interactive self-management education and behaviour-change program. The program has been designed for non-pregnant women with a previous diagnosis of gestational diabetes to support and empower them to make healthy lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The MyDESMOND Baby Steps program launched in April 2021.

Click here to find out more about MyDESMOND

Click here to find out more about MyDESMOND Baby Steps

 

Benefits of digital education and support programs for people living with diabetes

Leading health professionals and eLearning specialists develop the NDSS online education and support programs. As a result, the content is evidence-based, and designed with the end-user in mind. The programs are easy to access from the comfort of home and offers the opportunity for people to digest information at a pace that suits the goals and needs of each individual. These programs are not designed to replace the health advice people receive from their health provider; instead, and especially in the era of COVID-19, they aim to provide innovative and accessible education and support so people feel empowered and engaged in their diabetes self-management. Please encourage the people you see living with diabetes, to access these programs.

 

References

 

  1. Sacre JW, Holmes- Truscott E, Salim A, et al. (2021). Impact of the COVID- 19 pandemic and lockdown restrictions on psychosocial and behavioural outcomes among Australian adults with type 2 diabetes: findings from the PREDICT cohort study. Diabet Med. https://doi.org/10.1111/dme.14611
  2. Mackenzie SC, Cumming KM, Garrell D, et al. (2021). Massive open online course for type 2 diabetes self-management: adapting education in the COVID-19 era. BMJ Innov. 7,141–147.
  3. The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. Management of type 2 diabetes: A handbook for general practice. East Melbourne, Vic: RACGP, 2020. Retrieved from https://www.racgp.org.au/getattachment/41fee8dc-7f97-4f87-9d90-b7af337af778/Management-of-type-2-diabetes-A-handbook-for-general-practice.aspx
  4. World Health Organization. Global Report on Diabetes. (2016). Geneva Switzerland. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789241565257
  5. Quinn LM, Davies MJ,Northern A, et al. (2021). Use of MyDesmond digital education programme to support self-management in people with type 2 diabetes during the COVID-19 pandemic. DiabetMed. https://doi.org/10.1111/dme.14469
  6. Northern A, Troughton J, Hadjiconstantinou M et al (2021). The role of digital diabetes education (MyDESMOND) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Diabetes & Primary Care 23: [early view publication]
  7. Hermanns N., Ehrmann D., Finke-Groene K., & Kulzer B. (2020). Trends in diabetes self-management education: where are we coming from and where are we going? A narrative review. Diabet. Med. 37, 436-447.
  8. Hadjiconstantinou M, Schreder S, Brough C, Northern A, Stribling B, Khunti K, Davies MJ. (2020). Using Intervention Mapping to Develop a Digital Self-Management Program for People With Type 2 Diabetes: Tutorial on MyDESMOND. J Med Internet Res. 22(5)
  9. Nkhoma, D.E et al. (2021). Digital interventions for self-management education for type 1 and 2 diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Computer Methods & Programs in Biomedicine. Vol 210. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmpb.2021.106370
  10. Shah V.N. & Garg S.K. (2015). Managing diabetes in the digital age. Clinical Diabetes & Endocrinology. 1, 16.
  11. Hordern M.D., Dunstan D.W., Prins, J.B et al. (2012). Exercise prescription for patients with type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes: A position statement from Exercise and Sport Science Australia. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport 15, p 25-31.
  12. Gupta L, Khandelwal D, Kalra S. (2017) Applied carbohydrate counting. J Pak Med Assoc. Sep;67(9):1456-1457. PMID: 28924296.