Doctors and nurses who regularly see patients newly diagnosed with type-2 diabetes may want to think about providing more dietary guidance, after a survey revealed that many patients feel 'left in the dark' during the initial stages after their diagnosis.
A team at Queen's University Belfast questioned people who had recently been diagnosed with diabetes and were waiting to be referred to a diabetes education programme.
They found that during this waiting time, patients often received little guidance on what they should and shouldn't eat, as well as other ways to self-manage their condition.
One patient said they had been "eating enough to stay alive but eating very little" in a misguided effort to lower their blood glucose levels, while others complained of a lack of advice on how to exercise.
The problem is exacerbated by the fact that some patients have to wait several months before receiving diabetes education, during which time those working in GP jobs and other primary care services could be a useful source of information and reassurance.
Published in the journal Primary Health Care Research & Development, the research suggests that health professionals working with newly diagnosed diabetes patients should make a conscious effort to address this gap in their knowledge.
Dr Michelle McKinley, who conducted the research, says: "Patients with type-2 diabetes indicated that there was sometimes a delay between diagnosis and receiving advice about how to self-manage their diabetes.
"Not surprisingly, many patients felt that they were 'on their own' during this time, with no idea what changes to make to their lifestyle or how to set about doing it.
"It is important that we try to fill this gap with easily accessible information that is specifically designed for people with type-2 diabetes."
Some 2.9 million people in the UK have been diagnosed with diabetes, with many more yet to be identified, making it all the more important that primary care services play their part in supporting patients and giving them useful lifestyle guidance ahead of their first meeting with a professional for diabetes education.
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