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More than one in six people who attended diabetes education centres in Ontario did not have diagnosed diabetes: ICES study

June 5, 2014 Toronto

More than one in six people who attended diabetes education centres (DECs) in Ontario did not have diagnosed diabetes, say researchers in a study released today by the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES). The researchers speculate most of these patients had pre-diabetes or were otherwise at high risk for diabetes, meaning these visits were for diabetes prevention rather than diabetes management.

DECs are staffed by multidisciplinary teams whose role is to educate and provide self-management support for people living with diabetes.

“The importance of self-management education and prevention programs for individuals at risk for diabetes has been well established. But the delivery of diabetes prevention care to such large numbers of patients may be detracting from the DECs’ core function to support people already diagnosed with diabetes,” says Dr. Baiju Shah, lead author and senior scientist at ICES.

The paper, published in the Canadian Journal of Diabetes, is the first to examine the extent to which DECs are seeing individuals for diabetes prevention. The cohort study examined all people in Ontario who attended a DEC in 2006. The proportion of attendees without diagnosed diabetes at the time of their visit was determined, and their utilization of DECs was characterized. The researchers found:

  • Out of 117,660 adults who attended a DEC, 19,920 (16.9 per cent) did not have diagnosed diabetes.
  • There was a marked variation in the proportion of people attending a DEC who did not have diagnosed diabetes, ranging from 0 per cent at some centres to 91 per cent at others.
  • People without diagnosed diabetes made up a greater proportion of DEC attendees at centres based in Community Health Centres (47.5 per cent) or First Nations communities (22.1 per cent) compared to those based in hospitals (13.9 per cent) or other community settings (13.0 per cent).
  • Only 2,741 (13.8 per cent) attendees without diabetes attended group education classes; most attended individual counseling sessions. This may also represent excessively intensive use of DEC resources, as most proven diabetes prevention programs can be delivered through group classes.

The study “Utilization of diabetes education centres in Ontario by individuals without diabetes,” was published today in the Canadian Journal of Diabetes.

Authors: Jeremiah Hwee, Karen Cauch-Dudek, Charles Victor, Ryan Ng and Baiju R Shah.

ICES is an independent, non-profit organization that uses population-based health information to produce knowledge on a broad range of health care issues. Our unbiased evidence provides measures of health system performance, a clearer understanding of the shifting health care needs of Ontarians, and a stimulus for discussion of practical solutions to optimize scarce resources. ICES knowledge is highly regarded in Canada and abroad, and is widely used by government, hospitals, planners, and practitioners to make decisions about care delivery and to develop policy.

For the latest ICES news, follow us on Twitter: @ICESOntario

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