Formal diabetes self-management education (DSME) improves glycemic control. Yet, many patients referred to DSME do not attend. This study examined differences between patients referred to DSME who attended class (PA) and those who did not (PN) to assess factors that might be associated with attendance.

Methods: The study was conducted at an urban safety net hospital over two months. Phone interviews (128) were conducted with a convenience sample of patients after the scheduled DSME class (43 PA and 85 PN) to assess reason for attendance or not. Medical records supplied data on demographics, insurance status, and co-morbidities.

Results: DSME overall attendance was 32% of 197. While obesity was associated with increased likelihood of attendance (OR 2.67, P < .05), overall disease burden was not. Attendance did not differ by age, sex, diabetes duration, insurance status, or A1c. PA and PN reported similar reasons for planning to attend (general knowledge, 36%; “told to”, 32%; dietary information, 24%). Primary reasons for not attending were time conflicts (31%), poor health (24%), lack of perceived need (24%), and transportation (22%). Excluding those PN who denied perceived need for DSME, 64% of PN wanted to reschedule. Thus, lack of attendance may be related more to barriers than lack of interest. PN wanting knowledge were more likely (OR 6.7 p< 0.001) to want to reschedule and those just “told to” go (OR 0.24 p< 0.05) or felt no need (OR 0.15 p< 0.05) were less likely to reschedule.

Conclusions: Addressing both external and internal factors should improve DSME attendance. Flexible/negotiated scheduling, greater variety of class times/locations, ease of rescheduling, and access to alternative transportation options may address external barriers. To address perception of a lack of need for DSME, additional strategies such as clear communication of DSME benefits by clinical providers are needed to enhance attendance.


R. Wolf: None. C.S. Barnes: None. J. Caudle: None. S.G. Krishnapura: None. J.L. Dupont: None. R.J. Crawford: None. P.L. Dickerson: None. D.C. Ziemer: None.

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