2017 National Standards for Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support


The National Standards for Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support (DSMES) have been updated for the first time in 3 years to reflect the latest recommended standards for diabetes care.

The National Standards for Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support (DSMES) have been updated for the first time in 3 years to reflect the latest recommended standards for diabetes care.

Developed jointly by the American Diabetes Association and the American Association of Diabetes Educators, the standards advise clinicians on how to help patients who have diabetes deal with this very complex disease state. Approximately 30 million Americans are living with diabetes, 7.2 million of whom are undiagnosed.

DSMES is designed for health care providers and diabetes educators so they can effectively intervene. The primary focus is helping patients and caregivers learn about their diabetes and develop skills to address elevated blood sugar and its consequences. It describes how to structure education programs in all types of health care organizations, which team members to include, and appropriate curriculums.

A significant change in the 2017 revision includes the emphasis on the need for ongoing support and counseling for patients with diabetes. In the past, DSMED emphasized in-person education. This version speaks to the quality of education and support, while also addressesing technology-enabled models. According to the report, health care providers should select the support and education model that is most appropriate for individual patients.

The DSMES includes 10 standards. They stress stakeholder input, and evaluation of the communities that healthcare providers serve. The standards also indicate that providers need to assess the quality of the services that they provide, and that all programs need to have evidence-based, flexible curriculums.

In addition, this document promotes the use of individualized, written plans for patients that are reviewed in conjunction with members of the health care team periodically.

Of note, standard 5 in the DSMES says, “At least one of the team members responsible for facilitating DSMES services will be a registered nurse, registered dietitian nutritionist, or pharmacist with training and experience pertinent to DSMES or be another health care professional holding certification as a diabetes educator (CDE) or Board Certification in Advanced Diabetes Management (BC-ADM).” This is an evidenced-based recommendation, and inclusion of pharmacists is an important aspect.

Pharmacists who review the DSMES will refresh their understanding of evidence-based treatment for patients with diabetes, and become acquainted with the latest ideas and vocabulary.


Beck J, Greenwood DA, Blanton L, et al; 2017 Standards Revision Task Force. 2017 National Standards for Diabetes Self-management Education and Support. Diabetes Educ. 2017 Jul 1:145721717722968. doi: 10.1177/0145721717722968. [Epub ahead of print]

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