Occupational therapy intervention aids young adults with diabetes
medwireNews: An occupational therapy-driven intervention can significantly improve blood glucose control and diabetes-related quality of life (QoL) among ethnically diverse young adults with low socioeconomic status (SES), US researchers report.
Elizabeth Pyatak (University of Southern California, Los Angeles) and colleagues say that their study, carried out in this typically hard to reach population, “provides additional evidence of the potential for [occupational therapy] to improve clinical and psychosocial outcomes among individuals with diabetes.”
They explain that the Resilient, Empowered, Active Living with Diabetes (REAL Diabetes) intervention is a manual-based program with seven modules that can be specifically tailored to individuals’ goals and flexibly delivered during a minimum 10 hours of treatment.
The first module involves assessment and goal setting while the remaining six focus on living with diabetes, accessing healthcare and self-advocacy, activity and health, social support, emotional well-being, and long-term health.
In all, 63% of participants were women, with a mean age of 22.6 years, 78% of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, while 10% were White and 10% were Black.
The researchers report in Diabetes Care that mean glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels fell from 11.0% at baseline to 10.5% post-treatment in the 41 individuals with type 1 or type 2 diabetes who were assigned to the REAL Diabetes intervention.
By comparison, HbA1c increased from 10.5% to 10.8% among the 40 patients assigned to an attention control group in which participants received standardized educational materials and biweekly phone calls. The difference between the two groups was statistically significant.
Pyatak and team also observed significantly greater improvements in diabetes-related QoL (increase in Audit of Diabetes-Dependent QoL score: 0.7 vs 0.2 points) and habit strength for checking blood glucose (increase in Self-Report Behavioral Automaticity Index score: 3.9 vs 1.6 points) in the intervention versus control groups.
The study authors conclude: “Larger-scale translational studies evaluating this approach among various populations in real-world settings should be conducted to assess the potential impact of including [occupational therapists] on diabetes care teams.”
And they add that “[g]iven the increasing prevalence of diabetes, workforce shortages among front-line diabetes care providers, and the shift toward multidisciplinary team- based approaches to chronic care management, [occupational therapists] may merit consideration as an untapped resource to address the growing burden of diabetes in the U.S.”
By Laura Cowen
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