To compare diabetes care and education at the community level in 1981 and 1991 in order to record progress achieved in the decade of the 1980s, determine if there is a gap that must be closed to reach diabetes-related objectives for 2000, and establish a baseline to which changes stimulated by the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial can be compared.


In eight Michigan communities, representative primary-care physicians (61 in 1981; 68 in 1991) and their diabetic patients (428 and 440) were identified. Communities, physicians, and patients were randomly selected. Participating patients were interviewed and examined in their community or home to assess the kind and extent of diabetes care they had been receiving; their metabolic, nutritional, educational, and psychosocial status; their diabetic history and current status; and other related factors. The diabetic status, care, and education of the 1981 community patients were compared with those of patients studied in 1991.


Positive changes in diabetes care and education at the community level from 1981 to 1991 were seen in the areas of patient glucose monitoring, insulin administration practices, hypertension control, exercise recommendations in diabetic management; and smoking rates. Negative changes occurred in the percentage of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) patients receiving diabetes education and frequency of office visits to the patient's primary-care physician. Changes of indeterminate value included a sharp decline in primary diabetes admissions to the hospital and a decrease in the proportion of NIDDM patients managed with insulin. Many other hoped-for changes from 1981 status, such as screening for retinopathy, foot-care practices, and overall metabolic control of diabetes, did not occur.


The decade of the 1980s produced modest, but not impressive, improvements in diabetes care and education at the community level. Progress must be accelerated if the diabetes-related objectives included in the national targets for health promotion and disease prevention for 2000 are to be met.

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