Role of the Nurse in the Management of Diabetes

Vicky Georges Gebran, MSN
Lecturer, Nursing program
Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Balamand

Diabetes mellitus is a public health problem. Management of diabetes is a complex, lifelong process, requiring self-care management and adherence to therapeutic recommendations. Poor self-management can result in serious complications in the long term such as cardiovascular disease, blindness, amputation and kidney failure, affecting the quality of life of the patient and family. Studies have shown that good control of glucose level and adherence to therapeutic recommendations reduce microvascular and macrovascular complications.

Several personal factors are associated with poor self-management. These factors are divided into several dimensions such as socio-demographics, health beliefs, self-efficacy, knowledge, and factors related to the disease process and its management.

The nurse, among the health care team, is the appropriate person for identifying these factors and in turn assisting patients to understand the disease process and ways to manage it. Diabetes Self-Management Education (DSME) is considered imperative to ensure positive outcomes in the care of diabetic patients. DSME is the ongoing process of educating patients and their family the needed, skills, and ability for safe diabetes self-care. This caring aspect is mainly carried out by nurses.

Nurses are champions of diabetes care during the hospital stay and are a vital link from admission to the moment where the home self-management journey begins. Diabetes care and education carried out by nurses have moved beyond the hospital bedside into a variety of health care settings.

At schools, nurses keep records of children with diabetes, check times for insulin intake and snacks, educate school staff to consider the needs of the diabetic child, and manage emergencies. At home, the nurse educates and encourages patient compliance to regular checks of glycaemia and hypertension, periodic exams, and screening for early detection of complications.

Numerous studies have shown evidence that patients regularly attending a diabetic clinic led by nurses have improved control over glycated hemoglobin levels and lower mortality morbidity rates.

Furthermore, planned nursing home visits can improve the adoption of healthy behaviors and patients’ health outcomes.

It is worth mentioning that nurses also assess psychological and sociocultural issues that affect perception of patients, and play a hindrance or a facilitator to the required lifestyle changes. Nurses are often the first healthcare team members to interact with patients and help them correct misconceptions about their disease.

By empowering patients to self-manage their diabetes, they will improve the quality of their daily life, as well as prevent potential complications later in life. So we urge you dear patient to ask for support, counseling, and assistance to better manage your diabetes. It is always easy to approach a nurse.

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