According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 100 million Americans have diabetes or pre-diabetes (which, if left unchecked and untreated, can lead to Type 2 diabetes within five years). Though not as quickly as in previous years, diabetes cases are still actively increasing, and when cases of diabetes increase, risk of other serious health conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, nerve and kidney diseases, and vision loss, follow.
With this upward trend in diabetes cases comes a growing need for healthcare providers who have a deep understanding of the medical aspects of diabetes, as well as an advanced understanding of how to best care for their patients who have been diagnosed.
Guiding Principles from the AADE
The American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) has identified a “need for a language movement in diabetes care and education.” One publication released by an expert task force made up of members of the AADE and American Diabetes Association (ADA) maintains, “Language is powerful and can have a strong impact on perceptions as well as behavior.”
The behavior and perceptions of nurses, doctors, and all practitioners involved in the lives of people with diabetes is of crucial importance; with this in mind, the AADE published the following guiding principles:
- Diabetes is a complex and challenging disease involving many factors and variables.
- Every member of the healthcare team can serve people with diabetes more effectively through a respectful, inclusive, and person-centered approach.
- Stigma that has historically been attached to a diagnosis of diabetes can contribute to stress and feeling of shame and judgment.
- Person-first, strengths-based, empowering language can improve communication and enhance motivation, health and well-being of people with diabetes.
The AADE offers some examples of language that could be shifted to be person-first and empowering rather than blaming or stigmatizing in their free download, “Speaking the Language of Diabetes: Language Guidance for Diabetes-Related Research, Education, and Publications.” Suggestions include:
- Using language that is strengths-based, respectful, inclusive, and imparts hope. When discussing a patient’s use of medication, using words like “adherence,” “compliance,” and “non-compliant,” sends the message that the patient is or is not doing what they’re told, rather than taking responsibility for their health and making choices that promote self-care and self-management. The AADE further encourages a focus on facts rather than judgments when discussing medication.
- Using language that is free from stigma and is person-centered. The AADE suggests replacing all instances of the word “diabetic” used as a noun or adjective with person-first language, such as: “person with diabetes,” or “person who has diabetes.” This avoids labeling patients as their disease and instead recognizes their personhood first and foremost.
Introducing these guidelines and principles into the classroom will help students empower their future patients with diabetes. Further, making changes in the area of diabetes education can open to door for a culture shift in your entire simulation program toward patient-centered care.
Pocket Nurse offers many solutions for diabetes education.
Dickinson, Jane K., Susan J. Guzman, Melinda D. Maryniuk, Catherine A. O’Brian, Jane K. Kadohiro, Richard A. Jackson, Nancy D’Hondt, Brenda Montgomery, Kelly L. Close, and Martha M. Funnell. "The Use of Language in Diabetes Care and Education." Diabetes Care. December 01, 2017. Accessed August 07, 2019. https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/40/12/1790.article-info.
"New CDC Report: More than 100 Million Americans Have Diabetes or Prediabetes | CDC Online Newsroom | CDC." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. July 18, 2017. Accessed August 07, 2019. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/p0718-diabetes-report.html.
“Speaking the Language of Diabetes: Language Guidance for Diabetes-Related Research, Education, and Publications.” Diabetes Educator. 2017 by the American Association of Diabetes Educators. Accessed August 06, 2017. https://www.diabeteseducator.org/docs/default-source/practice/educator-tools/HCP-diabetes-language-guidance.pdf?sfvrsn=8.