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Diabetes study aims for better consultations

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 30, 2013

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Dissatisfied diabetes patients have prompted a study to establish if computer-based pre-appointment forms could lead to better consultations with doctors.

According to recent research a third of patients nationally with the condition said they don't get the chance to completely discuss self-management of the condition with consultants.

Institutions carrying out the study include The University of Exeter Medical School and Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry in diabetes outpatient clinics at the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust and Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust.

Such an on-line system already operates for cancer patients to identify areas for discussion between both sides before the appointment takes place.

The study will try to determine if a similar system would help diabetes patients by highlighting topics for discussion including use of medication, glycaemic control and quality of life.

Researchers will work with 120 patients visiting outpatient clinics over two years.

Professor Nicky Britten, Professor of Applied Health Care Research at the University of Exeter Medical School is heading the study.

She said: "This is a rare example of a patient-initiated research project and one which puts the patient at the centre of the study.

"It aims to address how diabetes patients can effectively discuss their concerns with their consultants at their outpatient appointments.

"Its outcomes could show benefit to other health conditions, not just diabetes.

"At a time when health services around the world are under strain from an increase in incidences of diabetes, a proven method which allows both the patient and the clinician to get the most out of an appointment together may in time lead to improved health outcomes and the potential for decreased pressure on health services."

Faith Harris-Golesworthy from Devon who has diabetes, said she found her questions about the condition were not always answered satisfactorily during consultations.

She said: "There is very little time to discuss issues such as depression, despite the fact that there is strong evidence for this co-existing with long-term conditions like diabetes. In addition, questions about lifespan are usually not answered clearly.

"There still seems to be a tendency, although I think this is improving, to put all people with diabetes in the same box despite the fact that our diabetes, our treatment and our lives with diabetes are all radically different."

Jim Harris from Penzance who also has the condition welcomed the study.

He said: "When I go to appointments, and because I still have a lot of health issues, I sometimes don't know where to start and what questions to ask my consultant.

"I often find that, when I have finished the appointment and left, I have forgotten to ask something.

"It will be very useful to someone like me who has multi-medical conditions - it will help to prioritise the questions that I need answering in the order of importance to me."

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