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05-10-2015 | Psychosocial care | Review | Article

Diabetes and Behavioral Learning Principles: Often Neglected yet Well-Known and Empirically Validated Means of Optimizing Diabetes Care Behavior

Current Diabetes Reports

Authors: Maggie Stoeckel, Danny Duke

Publisher: Springer US


Managing diabetes is known to be invasive, pervasive, and unrelenting, making adherence to the treatment regimen difficult to accomplish. Ongoing clinical and research efforts have attempted to address the struggles faced by youth and adults with diabetes. Recent research supports the integration of behavioral interventions into clinical practice to assist patients and families with the goal of improving health outcomes. Empirically supported and well-documented behavioral learning principles, particularly positive reinforcement, are often underutilized in modern diabetes care. We posit that most diabetes care providers are aware of these principles. However, the constraints of today’s medical systems have become significant barriers to purposefully and consistently applying them to promote improved diabetes care. We provide a brief overview of basic behavioral principles and common barriers to implementation, discuss relevant interventions, and present several examples of applications in clinical settings. We conclude with recommendations to raise awareness regarding the importance of consistently integrating relevant behavioral learning principles and interventions into diabetes care settings.

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