May 30, 2012

The Importance of Peer Mentoring

I like blogs like this one. First, they let me know that there is a strong need for this to fill the vacuum left by the medical and related organizations. With the increasing numbers of people being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and approximately 50 million people with prediabetes, other professional organizations will not be able to keep up with the need.

The group of us with type 2 diabetes is basically an informal peer-to-peer group with no formal diabetes training. I am not sure that we have the same low A1c average that we had at one time, because we have added members rather rapidly. Of the current group of ten, eight of us are using insulin and another is considering insulin. We do work with each other, offering encouragement, advocating for better health and doing research and reading to help each other. This may not be an ideal peer group, but so far, it has worked for us.

The study was done with African Americans at the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center who had not been successful at lowering their A1C. What the researchers are not sure about is if the veteran camaraderie helped more that it might in other groups.

Of the ten in our group, five of us have served in the military. I am surprised that there is not a lot more talk about our service time, as all of us served during the Vietnam era. This seems to have been replaced appropriately by our need for conversation to help each other with diabetes.

In the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center study, the peer-mentoring group had the best results among the three groups. Among those in the peer-mentoring group, A1C was reduced from 9.8% to 8.7%. Not that the results that are excellent, but it is an excellent start for the group.

Perhaps the most obvious attraction of this type of peer mentoring is that it is virtually free, almost certainly enhancing its cost-effectiveness relative to more expensive interventions, such as nurse care management, telemedicine, and group medical appointments,” state the study authors.

You may read the press releases here and an article by David Mendosa here.

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