Better Guidelines for Diabetes, Needed By the Public

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Recently, a survey of the diabetes prevention and control programs in 57 states implemented by the federal government have been surveyed has underscored the need for the improvement of diabetes treatment guidelines. The existing public guidelines must be in accordance with the needs of the population.

The survey was carried out by researchers from the University of California in San Francisco, San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center and the California Department of Public Health. The said institutions investigated as to how the existing programs disseminate the information to physicians. The survey found out that usually, state programs responsible for distributing clinical guidelines obtain the information from national clinical specialty organizations, rather than devise a certain guideline which is appropriate for the target population.

As published in the American Journal of Public Health, these national guidelines are intended to operate and cater the needs of the individuals in managing diabetes; rather than population-targeted care plans. A result of the study supported this practice since it was found out that officials who are responsible for these programs implementation lack access to and are do not have sufficient scientific evidences needed to adapt their guidelines to the individual needs and resources.

One example of this discrepancy is the current guideline that recommends at least an annual screening for vision due to the increased risk for diabetic retinopathy and blindness. However, there are some people who are not at risk with the said complications of diabetes, and getting visual tests every other year may be enough.

According to statistics, diabetes affects one out of ten Americans and this disease costs taxpayers about $200 billion yearly. As suggested by the study, each state will be able to maximize its resources and tackle the problems associated with diabetes more accurately with the help of more specific and adapted guidelines.

“In order to improve diabetes health for populations, rather than individuals, we need to know how to maximize health and quality of life with the limited resources that are available,” according to Urmimala Sarkar, MD, MPH who spearheaded the research.

One scenario is the diabetes control programs in California. An estimated one out of seven people already have diabetes (accounting to about 4 million residents), and million others are at risk for having the disease. In the past decade, the incidence of diabetes has ballooned to up to one third and the state spends about $24 billion each year to address these diabetic patients.

Because of this growing concern, the US Center for Disease Control has allotted a specific amount for the health department of each state for diabetes prevention and control programs.

“Diabetes control programs need to have better data to determine how to best prioritize these guidelines and weigh optimal versus “good enough” care. Not enough is known about how interventions compare, or whether public health guidelines that depart from national standards for aggressive treatment would enable more people to benefit from interventions to prevent complications. Lacking these data, states may be missing an opportunity to better promote public health,” said Sarkar.

 

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