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New Guidebook Outlines Role of Pharmacists, Podiatrists, Optometrists, and Dental Professionals in Diabetes Care

A new publication from the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) emphasizes the key role played by dental professionals, as well as pharmacists, podiatrists, and optometrists in delivering health messages to people with diabetes.

Many people turn to these professionals with common diabetes questions about self-care or medications before consulting primary care providers. NDEP encourages all health care professionals to understand their unique contribution to diabetes team care so their advice to patients is consistent.

The primer—Working Together to Manage Diabetes: A Guide for Pharmacists, Podiatrists, Optometrists and Dental Professionals (PPOD)—outlines the diabetes care issues of each of these medical disciplines so that all health care professionals can use a team care approach to recognize and manage the serious problems outside their specific health care field. The guide also asks health care providers to discuss with their patients the importance of annual health screenings and contribute to a proactive team approach to diabetes care.

"These professionals are in a great position to advise and educate their patients about diabetes control and prevention," said Dr. James Gavin III, chairman of NDEP's steering committee. "Including these professionals as part of the health care team will help patients to better manage their diabetes."

NDEP is a collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to raise awareness of diabetes and provide treatment tools. The primer is divided into six sections including

  • General information on diabetes;
  • Messages that health care professionals can use when discussing diabetes with their patients;
  • Suggestions for how health care professionals can provide comprehensive care and self-management support for their patients;
  • Background information on the physiology of diabetes as it relates to diseases of the foot, eye and mouth;
  • Information on drug therapy management that discusses the role of pharmacists in drug therapy management and self-care advice.

The likelihood that an adult will have contact with at a PPOD provider during the course of a year is high. For instance

  • Nearly 84 million adults use prescription medications—about 24 million for high cholesterol and 33 million for high blood pressure—both conditions that are associated with diabetes complications;
  • Approximately 50 percent of adults have a personal pharmacist;
  • About 5 percent of the U.S. population visits a podiatric physician each year;
  • More than half the U.S. population wears some sort of corrective eye lenses;
  • Approximately two-thirds of Americans see their dentist once a year.

"The team approach to diabetes care is key in prevention and treating diabetes complications and these professionals may be the first providers people consult for advice on self-care or medications," said Dr. Frank Vinicor, director of CDC's diabetes division. "The new primer will help health providers in all four disciplines respond to common diabetes questions and reinforce consistent health messages."

"People with diabetes are more likely to have gum (periodontal) disease, and problems with gum health can alert dentists and members of the dental team to an individual who is possibly having problems with self-care and control of blood sugar levels," notes Dr. William Maas, director of the CDC Division of Oral Health. "Dental professionals are in a unique position to reinforce the need for care from the other health professionals on the patient's diabetes care team."

Currently about 18 million people in the United States have diabetes. Most (90 percent to 95 percent) have type 2 diabetes, which is associated with obesity, physical inactivity and older age. View a copy of Working Together to Manage Diabetes or call 1-800-438-5383 to order a free copy.

The National Diabetes Educational Program is a federally funded program co-sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health and is a leading source for information about diabetes care and prevention. NDEP has more than 200 partner organizations that form a network to reach the health care community and those affected by diabetes at the federal state and local levels.

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