It is always a major step towards improved health care on a national or even global level when an amended set of evidence-based guidelines are released from a comprehensive evaluation and deliberation of industry and subspecialty experts. Earlier this week, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) released an improved draft recommendation for Screening of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in Adults, which was last updated around 6 years ago in 2008.
One of the highlights of the draft is the timely inclusion of multiple risk-factor based type 2 diabetes screening among patients not exhibiting symptoms of the disease. In the 2008 update, the only criteria for asymptomatic screening was elevated blood pressure. Last year, a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine revealed that the previous screening guidelines led to more than half of diabetics remaining undiagnosed. This year’s draft was lauded by the The American Diabetes Association (ADA) because it takes into consideration the growing number of individuals who are unaware they already have diabetes, which is estimated to be 8 million undiagnosed cases out of 30 million occurrences. It is because of a significant lack of preventive and early health care that diabetes becomes difficult to manage and is likely to lead to life-threatening complications.
The ADA’s Chief Scientific and Medical Officer, Dr. Robert Ratner, said that the new screening recommendation is a crucial step towards improving patient outcome. Some of the risk factors the association has identified include older age, being overweight or obese, family history, and being a member of a minority group noted to have a predisposition for type 2 diabetes. Screening individuals with these risk factors will not only initiate early treatment for those who test positive, but will also prompt positive lifestyle modifications for prevention.
Another development in the management of diabetes is e-learning, or learning self-management through online resources. A recent study from North Carolina showed that self-management learned through the internet could lead to better glycemic control and learning, compared to traditional patient care and education.