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15-02-2011 | Diabetes | Article

Group based peer support not suitable for all Type 2 diabetics


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MedWire News: A group-based peer support intervention is possible in a general practice setting, but does not improve clinical outcomes in all Type 2 diabetes patients, say researchers.

As reported in the BMJ, the authors say that although introducing peer support meetings into general practice surroundings was relatively easy, a large number of patients were not interested in participating and 18% who agreed to attend never came to any meetings.

Susan Smith (Trinity College Dublin, Republic of Ireland) and colleagues tested the efficacy of peer support for improving clinical outcomes in 395 patients with Type 2 diabetes. Of these, 192 were assigned to the intervention group and 203 to the control group for a period of 2 years.

The peer support intervention involved recruitment and training of peer supporters, followed by nine group meetings led by the peer supporters in the participants' own practice, and the setting up of a retention plan for the peer supporters.

At 2 years, there were no significant differences in glycated hemoglobin, systolic blood pressure, concentration of total cholesterol, or wellbeing scores between the two groups.

Smith and team note that there was a trend for the number of patients in the intervention group with poorly controlled risk factors to decrease over the study. For example, only 52% of the intervention group had poorly controlled systolic blood pressure at study completion compared with 61% of the controls. But they emphasize that these alterations were not statistically significant.

The authors say that their results indicate that it is possible to put a peer support system into practice for patients with Type 2 diabetes, but say that it needs to be recognized that a significant number of patients may not be interested in participating.

"Future research could focus on alternative models of delivering support or targeting support to those with poorly controlled risk factors," they conclude.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Helen Albert

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