Office of Research & Development

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VA RESEARCH QUARTERLY UPDATE
 

New Initiatives

VA implements national Hypoglycemic Safety Initiative


Veterans Glenn Williams (left) and Ronald Ross (right) are taking part in a study at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center on peer mentoring to help with diabetes management. Here, they meet with study coordinator Kirsten Rogers
Veterans Glenn Williams (left) and Ronald Ross (right) are taking part in a study at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center on peer mentoring to help with diabetes management. Here, they meet with study coordinator Kirsten Rogers. (Photo by Tommy Leonardi)

Veterans Glenn Williams (left) and Ronald Ross (right) are taking part in a study at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center on peer mentoring to help with diabetes management. Here, they meet with study coordinator Kirsten Rogers. (Photo by Tommy Leonardi)

Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the body cannot produce or properly use insulin. It affects nearly 25 percent of VA's patient population, and is the leading cause of blindness, end-stage renal disease, and amputation for VA patients.

In December 2014, VA announced the launch of a national Hypoglycemic Safety Initiative to encourage diabetic Veterans receiving VA care to get help to lower their risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), a possible side effect of diabetes treatment. In recent years, VA researchers and others have helped draw attention to the problem, which in some cases is a result of over-aggressive treatment.

The new initiative will enable Veterans living with diabetes to work more closely with their VA clinicians to personalize their health goals and to improve their ability to manage the disease.

The key elements of the new initiative emphasize shared decision-making and universal health literacy to ensure Veterans understand the health information their VA team provides. This includes a "teach-back method" in which Veterans and their caregivers are asked questions to make sure they understand and can act on key elements of self-care, including diet, exercise, glucose monitoring, and medication management.

The program will also take advantage of VA's electronic health record, with optional alerts for clinicians on which patients may be at risk, and decision-making support to help ensure appropriate care and follow-up.

On a related note, VA's Diabetes QUERI (Quality Enhancement Research Initiative) recently issued an update highlighting recent findings on ways Veterans can improve the self-management of their diabetes, such as peer support. The publication is titled "Enhancing Support from Informal Caregivers."


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Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.