Peer diabetes educators may be just as effective as professional educators, according to a study published online on November 19, 2012, by Diabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews.
The study randomly assigned type 2 diabetes patients to attend a 4-week structured diabetes education course taught by either professional educators or trained volunteer peers. Patients who participated in the peer-taught program also received continuous peer support through weekly phone calls and bimonthly face-toface group interviews. Group interviews were conducted using a structured questionnaire designed to measure their progress. Researchers then measured clinical, metabolic, and psychological outcomes 1 year after participants attended the program.
Both the professionally educated patients and peereducated patients saw positive outcomes a year after the program. Peer-educated subjects had lower systolic blood pressure, were more physically active, and had better control of hypoglycemic episodes.
The researchers conclude that peer education and support can be successful in improving the quality of care of diabetes patients. The study suggests trained peer education as an alternative to professional education, especially in areas with limited professionals and resources.