It is not clear whether diabetic patients can learn accurate self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG) by use of written package instructions. In addition, it is unclear whether the improvement in accuracy of monitoring that results from professional training is due to the professional intervention or to a personal practice effect. For these reasons, improvement in accuracy of SMBG (using Chemstrip bG, Biodynamics Division, Boehringer-Mannheim, Indianapolis, Indiana) after a 30-min session of professional instruction in one group of diabetic patients was compared with improvement after 30 min of practice and study of package instructions in another group. After initial reading of package instructions in both groups, and after the practice session in the control group, mean percent error was 22–37%. In contrast, mean percent error declined to 9% after a professional training session. We conclude that learning SMBG solely by reading package instructions leads to unacceptable inaccuracy. However, by use of short, intensive instruction sessions, a diabetes educator can reduce such errors and teach highly accurate monitoring to most diabetic patients.

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