Translating diabetes research into practical tools

Today, there are more than nine million Canadians living with diabetes or prediabetes. The Canadian Diabetes Association is dedicated to leading the fight against diabetes by helping people with diabetes live healthy lives while working to find a cure.  The Association supports people living with diabetes through community-based networks of volunteers, members, employees, healthcare professionals, researchers, and partners to provide education and services, advocate on behalf of people with diabetes, support research, and translate that research into practical tools.

In 2008, the Association published the 2008 Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Management of Diabetes in Canada as a supplement to the Canadian Journal of Diabetes.  In 2009, the Association identified six important themes from the 2008 Clinical Practice Guidelines and created the Tool Kit for the Prevention and Management of Diabetes in Canada. These tools were translated from the research into smaller references, which can easily be used by patients and healthcare professionals. Each theme consists of clinically oriented, practical information, as well as an accompanying patient tool.  These themes help integrate evidence-based medicine, as well as diabetes prevention and management strategies from the 2008 Clinical Practice Guidelines into practice and inform diabetes care across the country.

Four of these themes—Cardiovascular Risk Assessment and Reduction, Organization of Care, Protecting Mothers and Children, and Physical Activity and Exercise—have already been released and distributed to more than 40,000 health care professionals across Canada.

The most recently released theme, Physical Activity and Exercise, was launched in the fall of 2011, at the 14th Annual Canadian Diabetes Association and Canadian Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism Conference and Annual Meetings in Toronto. The final two themes—Foot Care and Diabetes Education—will be released in the fall of 2012.

Physical activity and exercise
The fourth theme—Physical Activity and Exercise—focuses on the benefits of physical activity for the treatment and prevention of diabetes. Regular physical activity is one of the most important things a person can do to manage and live well with diabetes. For those living with type 2 diabetes, physical activity can be as powerful as glucose-lowering medication, with fewer side effects. Research illustrates that people living with diabetes who participate in aerobic and resistance exercises, significantly improve their glycemic control (A1C) over six months.

The theme provides health care professionals with tools to help advise inactive patients on how to start an exercise routine or, for those who are already active, how to maintain or progress further with their established routine. The theme also provides health care professionals with a helpful exercise “prescription” pad.  Health care providers can simply check mark their recommendation for patients and allow the patient to take it home as a resource.

Using this theme, the Association recently created an additional printed resource entitled Building Competency in Diabetes Education: Physical Activity and Exercise. The Association and the Diabetes Educator Section are now also offering Physical Activity and Exercise in Diabetes workshops across Canada.

Foot care
The fifth theme, Foot Care, will be released in September 2012 and will be distributed in partnership with the Canadian Association of Wound Care. This theme contains a number of evidence-based recommendations and clinically-oriented practical information about diabetes and foot care of value to both patients and healthcare professionals, including:

–    A diabetes and healthy foot poster. This poster features helpful tips for patients on caring for their feet and guidelines for the type of footwear they should wear.
–    A clinician’s brochure for foot care. Healthcare professionals can use this to help identify different foot complications and ensure they complete the proper follow-up steps for their patients; it includes an easy checklist for each diabetes foot complication.
–    A patient brochure for foot care. This will help patients to properly check their feet at home. It includes examples of signs they should look for when performing self foot checks.

Diabetes education
Diabetes Education is the sixth and final theme being released in October 2012.  This theme will focus on access to, and awareness of, diabetes education services. An online interactive tool will help Canadians living with diabetes learn the value of individualized diabetes education, and how to access services for diabetes education in their jurisdiction.  Currently, approximately only 25 per cent of people living with diabetes access diabetes education.  People with diabetes should be offered timely diabetes education that is tailored to them to enhance self-care practices and behaviours.

For more information about the Tool Kit themes and to download the resources, visit Hardcopies can also be ordered at