09/02/2010 - News

Are Group Medical Clinics Effective for Diabetes?

By: June Chen, MD


Group medical clinics are an intensive approach to treating diabetes in which small groups of patients attend group self-management education sessions and receive individualized medical management from a diabetes care team consisting of an internist, a pharmacist, and a diabetes educator. While group medical clinics are widely used in the management of diabetes, their effectiveness has not been well-studied. According to a study published in the June 1, 2010 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, group medical clinics are effective in improving blood pressure, but not blood sugar control, in patients with diabetes.

Researchers from the Veterans Affairs Medical Centers in Durham, North Carolina and Richmond, Virginia tested the effectiveness of group medical clinics in the management of 239 patients who had both poorly-controlled diabetes and hypertension. The patients were randomly assigned to either receive usual care or attend a group medical clinic where they participated in structured group interactions and had their diabetes and blood pressure medications individually managed. The researchers found that, after approximately one year, the patients in the group medical clinic group experienced significant improvements in blood pressure compared to the patients in the usual care group. However, there was no significant difference in the effectiveness of diabetes management between the two groups.
Based on this study, group medical clinics are a good strategy for improving blood pressure, but not blood sugar control, in people who have both diabetes and high blood pressure. It is not clear why the benefit for group medical clinics does not extend to diabetes management. However, this is still good news because it seems that group-based intervention was well-received by patients and blood pressure control is more important than blood sugar control in reducing cardiovascular morbidity and mortality among patients with diabetes.

Source: Ann Intern Med. 2010; 152(11): 689-696.

Created on: 06/01/2010
Reviewed on: 09/02/2010

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