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Diabetes Health Care: Are Shared Medical Appointments Right for You?

Gain more access to diabetes health care providers by joining forces. The exchange of information during shared appointments can lead to better self-management evidenced by blood sugar numbers and lab results. And sharing support can improve emotional health, which also helps people set goals and take better care of themselves.

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Millions of people live with diabetes, yet too few health professionals specialize in diabetes care. Shared medical appointments (SMAs) may help. These group appointments allow people to explore the minutiae of self-care with a health care provider in the company of fellow patients. The discussions range from blood sugar trends to weight loss strategies. Whether PWDs meet at a conference table or sit in an informal circle of chairs, they can share their triumphs and struggles in the group format.

"No medications or prescription renews are discussed individually per se, but the general effect of a medication is discussed for informational purposes. Same with blood sugar trends," says SMA participant Miesen Proehl, PWD type 2, who was diagnosed at age 28 after gestational diabetes. "The appointments last longer, and often there are lectures and talks, and they meet more often than regular one-on-one appointments."

SMAs help providers meet with more patients -- and help patients keep in consistent contact with their providers. For some people, having more access to their medical team makes a positive difference in handling self-care responsibilities.

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