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Diabetes and the Benefits of Self-Management Education

Whether you are new to diabetes or have years of experience, diabetes self-management education (DSME) can make a positive impact on day-to-day management and long-term outcomes. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there is considerable evidence that shows positive changes in those who participate in DSME.1 It is an opportunity to learn from a trained professional in diabetes education. “DSME is the ongoing process of facilitating the knowledge, skill, and ability necessary for diabetes self-care. This process incorporates the needs, goals, and life experiences of the person with diabetes and is guided by evidence-based standards.”2 It is best done in collaboration with other healthcare professionals all working together as a team.

I would like to address these benefits one at a time so you can see the extent at which DSME can make a positive impact on a person with diabetes. DSME requires time, commitment and effort geared towards having a deeper and more personal understanding of one’s own diabetes. Management will be unique to each person and must meet the needs, abilities and preferences each one has. But the potential outcomes are invaluable and well worth the work. Do not view these benefits in any order of priority (however I do have my favorites). They are all an important part of making life better for someone with diabetes. DSME at diagnosis is critical but also as changes occur, following or prior to a yearly exam and during transition of care.

Benefits of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes Self-Management Education


> Reduced healthcare costs seem to top the list.

Approximately 9.3 of the global population had diabetes as of 2019. At the current growth rate, it is expected to rise to 10.2% by 2030. This number makes an impact on healthcare costs. When complications of diabetes are avoided, there are fewer hospitalizations and readmissions, along with other medical expenses that will directly impact the person with diabetes. It also affects productivity at work and the necessity to take days off. DSME provides education to help people with diabetes lessen complications and a have a more productive life.

You can’t talk about reduced healthcare costs without mentioning fewer or less severe diabetes-related complications. DSME provides the education needed to lower blood glucose to a safe range, therefore, reducing complications that are common with diabetes. These complications include heart disease, kidney disease, blindness and neuropathy. When diabetes is managed, these complications can be lessened or avoided altogether. DSME not only contributes to decreased blood glucose, but also improved blood pressure and cholesterol.

blood glucose

> As blood glucose levels go down, so does Hemoglobin A1c (A1c), a measure of average blood sugars over a 3-month time span.

A1c levels are linked to complications.4 A goal for most people with diabetes is 7% or less. However, your personal target may vary from this. If you have diabetes, it is important to work with a medical professional in determining your specific A1c goal. An appropriate A1c would be low enough to avoid complications without having frequent low blood glucose incidents (less than 2% of the time during 24 hours).


> There are also higher rates of improved medication use for those who participate in DSME.

The diabetes-care team can help a person with diabetes learn more about their medication and how to properly use it for the best outcomes in their own situation. If taken as directed, medication can be a tool and should not be viewed as a sign of personal inadequacy. There continues to be more medications available. If you have diabetes, learn about medication options that might help you.


> I feel that one of the most important benefits of DSME is the improved long-term outcomes and enhanced self-efficacy.

Studies show that DSME can have a positive influence on the quality of life for adults and youth with diabetes.5 Patricia Davidson, DCN, RDN, CDCES, LDN, professor in the department of nutrition at West Chester University of Pennsylvania stated, “Even when outcomes may not have reached statistical significance, trends indicated clinical impact. Quality of life can be measured at both the individual and community level. At the individual level, quality of life addresses mental health and physical factors, as well as mood, health risk and functional status.” Included in these positive outcomes are healthier behaviors such as better nutrition and increased physical activity. The idea behind DSME is to teach the person with diabetes the skills needed to make their own decisions in regard to their personal care. Self-efficacy in diabetes management is empowering and emotionally rewarding.


1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, August 10). How people with diabetes benefit from DSMES. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved April 28, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/dsmes-toolkit/background/benefits.html

2. Funnell, M. M., Brown, T. L., Childs, B. P., Haas, L. B., Hosey, G. M., Jensen, B., Maryniuk, M., Peyrot, M., Piette, J. D., Reader, D., Siminerio, L. M., Weinger, K., & Weiss, M. A. (2010, January). National standards for diabetes self-management education. Diabetes care. Retrieved April 28, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2797385/#:~:text=Diabetes%20self%2Dmanagement%20education%20(DSME)%20is%20the%20ongoing%20process,guided%20by%20evidence%2Dbased%20standards.

3. Saeedi P;Petersohn I;Salpea P;Malanda B;Karuranga S;Unwin N;Colagiuri S;Guariguata L;Motala AA;Ogurtsova K;Shaw JE;Bright D;Williams R; ; (1019, September 10). Global and regional diabetes prevalence estimates for 2019 and projections for 2030 and 2045: Results from the International Diabetes Federation Diabetes Atlas, 9 TH edition. Diabetes research and clinical practice. Retrieved May 2, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31518657/

4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, August 10). All about your A1C. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved May 2, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/managing-blood-sugar/a1c.html

5. Monostra, M. (n.d.). Some quality of life improvement observed with diabetes self-management education. Healio. Retrieved May 2, 2022, from https://www.healio.com/news/endocrinology/20220415/some-quality-of-life-improvement-observed-with-diabetes-selfmanagement-education

If you have diabetes, make time for DSME and discover these benefits for yourself.

We here at Integrated Diabetes Services can meet your individual needs. Our diabetes educators focus on a variety of specialties. Some of these include education for newly diagnosed, type 1 and pregnancy, optimizing use of devices, weight loss for insulin users, as well as insulin management for athletes.  

For more information or to get involved in DSME, call 877-735-3648 (in N America) or +1 (610) 642-6055 (outside N America).