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Health Literacy Is Critical to Improving Diabetes Outcomes

stethoscope-on-a-bookLike many chronic conditions, diabetes exacts a tremendous toll both in terms of patient health and the costs of care. During American Diabetes Month® each November, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) steps up its efforts to raise awareness about this disease, particularly because diabetes contributes to additional health problems. 

  • High blood pressure impacts 71 percent of adults with diabetes.
  • Heart attack rates are 1.8 times higher and stroke rates are 1.5 times higher among those diagnosed with the disease.
  • Forty-four percent of kidney failures are attributed to diabetes.

Given the relationship between diabetes and other chronic conditions, the direct and indirect health care costs of diabetes are significant.

According to an ADA study on the economic costs of diabetes published in April 2013, the total estimated cost was $245 billion in 2012, an increase of 41 percent from 2007 figures. With nearly 30 million children and adults diagnosed with diabetes and another 86 million at risk for developing the disease ensuring health literacy and patient activation among those diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes is critical.

One Diagnosis, Many Attitudes

Health care providers face a daunting challenge. How do you effectively educate patients about their health conditions and encourage active engagement in health management? Individuals are more than their diagnosis; if providers use a “one size fits all’ approach in their efforts to connect with patients diagnosed with diabetes, the impact will be limited.  

In the c2b Consumer Diagnostic, we note that “… people are not ‘walking disease states’ they are people first, with underlying, hardwired motivations that influence behavior and approaches to disease management.” In order to develop health literacy and patient activation programs that are truly effective, providers need insights into patients beyond typical demographic profiles.  

To get a clearer understanding of how the unique attitudes, goals and lifestyles influence behavior, let’s look at one of the questions in our Diabetes Consumer Diagnostic survey.

Which Most Describes Your Way of Managing a Healthy Lifestyle?

  1. I need clear direction from a health professional (Doctor, Nurse, Nutritionist, Fitness Trainer, etc.) and be instructed on what to do in caring for my health and wellness.
  2. I seek options or choices from a health professional (Doctor, Nurse, Nutritionist, Fitness Trainer, etc.) because it is my decision how I care for my health and wellness.
  3. I am open to direction from a health professional (Doctor, Nurse, Nutritionist, Fitness Trainer, etc.) in caring for my health and wellness, but I do not actively seek this guidance.
  4. I consider myself self-sufficient and rely on myself for my health and wellness, without any direction and guidance from a health professional (Doctor, Nurse, Nutritionist, Fitness Trainer, etc.) unless it is absolutely necessary.
  5. I don't really do much to manage a healthy lifestyle.

Based on the responses, the majority of respondents with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes prefer “choices and options or more passive guidance.” Yet 36 percent of those with Type 1 diabetes and 22 percent with Type 2 diabetes prefer a “directive approach.”  

Based on this question alone, it’s clear that a single approach such as providing specific, rigid dietary rules for managing blood sugar offers little value to those patients who prefer self-direction and choice.

Using Deep Consumer Insights to Inform Engagement Strategies

In addition to using the c2b Consumer Classifier to identify specific psychographic segments (i.e., distinct consumer groups based on their motivations and approach to health and wellness), the c2b Consumer Diagnostic contains health care market research– including data specific to a number of diagnoses– that can help you refine your communications. Along with demographics and socioeconomics data, this tool includes many variables to define a health care consumer type:

  • Health Status and Attitudes
  • The Role of Family
  • The Role of Health Care Professionals
  • Peer Influence
  • Diet, Exercise, and Sleep
  • Appearance
  • Emotional Health
  • Financial Considerations
  • Influence of Community and Social Environment
  • Where They Purchase Rx and OTC medicines
  • Litigation Risk
  • Plus Hundreds of Other Variables…

Having a better understanding of the attitudes and behaviors of patients– whether they have diabetes or another chronic condition– enables health care providers to develop relevant, effective health literacy and patient activation programs that can lead to better health outcomes.

Contact us to learn more about c2b solutions’ tools for enhanced insights into your patients.

Psychographic Segmentation and its Practical Application in Patient Engagement and Behavior Change

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