Education and Support

Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support (DSMES) services help people with diabetes learn how to take the best care of themselves. Ask your doctor for a referral to DSMES services to help you manage your diabetes.

How will DSMES help me?

When you learn that you have diabetes, your first question might be, “What can I eat?” DSMES will answer this question and many others. Your first step should be ask your doctor to refer you for DSMES. If your doctor does not talk to you about these services, bring it up during your visit.

DSMES services include a health care team who will teach you how to stay healthy and how to make what you learn a regular part of your life.

DSMES services will help you:

  • Make better decisions about your diabetes.
  • Work with your health care team to get the support you need.
  • Understand how to take care of yourself and learn the skills to:
    • Eat healthy.
    • Be active.
    • Check your blood sugar (glucose).
    • Take your medicine.
    • Solve problems.
    • Cope with the emotional side of diabetes.
    • Reduce your risk of other health problems.

woman pointing to text on a whiteboard

Diabetes Education and Support

Visit the AADE websiteexternal icon to learn more about diabetes educators and DSMES.

Find a Diabetes Education Program in Your Areaexternal icon

Why is DSMES important?

  • People who have the knowledge and support to manage their diabetes are healthier than those who do not.
  • Learning how to control your diabetes will save money and time, and help you have fewer emergency and hospital visits.
  • Knowing how and when to take your medication, how to monitor your blood sugar (glucose), and how to take care of yourself, helps you manage your diabetes better.
  • Managing your diabetes will help you avoid or delay serious health complications.
  • The skills you learn will help you take better care of yourself. Diabetes management starts with you.

It’s important to go for DSMES services when you first find out you have diabetes so you can learn how to take care of yourself. However, there are three other times DSMES can help you. Read about them in the table below.

When Do You Need DSMES?
When Do You Need DSMES? Why?
When you first find out that you have diabetes When you’re first diagnosed, you may not know where to begin. DSMES can give you the information and support to start managing your diabetes.
During yearly follow-up visits with your doctor Check on your progress and get help to prevent complications.
When new situations affect the way you take care of yourself New events or conditions in your life can affect your diabetes. Examples include diagnosis of a new health condition, a change in your mobility, depression, or money problems.
When other life changes occur that affect the way you take care of yourself Major life changes can affect your diabetes. Examples of life changes include a change in your living situation, your doctors or insurance plan, or your job.

How can I find DSMES services?

Your doctor may give you a referral to a specific program and a number to call. If your doctor doesn’t refer you to specific services, go to the Find a Diabetes Education Program in Your Areaexternal icon website. This website lists DSMES services recognized by the American Diabetes Association or accredited by the American Association of Diabetes Educators.

Will my insurance cover the cost of these services?

Most insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, cover up to 10 hours of diabetes education the first year of diagnosis. After the first year, your coverage may be different. Contact your insurance provider for more information.

Who is my health care team?

Your health care team includes diabetes educators—such as, doctors, nurses, dieticians, pharmacists, and other health can providers—who have special training and experience. Your health care team will help you learn how to take care of yourself and manage your diabetes.

Where can I learn more about DSMES?

Visit the American Association of Diabetes Educatorsexternal icon website to learn more about what a diabetes educator and DSMES can do for you.

Related information

Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support (DSMES) Toolkit
This toolkit provides resources and tools to assist state health departments and their partners in planning and implementing activities to increase the use of DSMES programs, focusing on access, health care provider referrals, and reimbursement.

Page last reviewed: August 10, 2021