Introduction: Healthcare provider-related stigma against patients with diabetes is related to worse doctor-patient relationships and may contribute to worse patient self-care. A previous feasibility study showed benefit in using a contact-based education approach to improve attitudes of medical students towards patients with diabetes. This study evaluated how diabetes-related stigma of internal medicine residents in a military health system was affected by a one-hour panel of people who have personal experience with diabetes.

Methods: Panel participants included a woman with two sons who have type 1 diabetes, an active duty male soldier diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and a veteran with type 2 diabetes. Patients were asked to discuss their personal experiences with diabetes, common misconceptions regarding diabetes, and what they wish healthcare providers understood about diabetes. The validated Diabetes Attitude Scale-3 (DAS-3) questionnaire, which assesses diabetes-related attitudes based on a 5-point Likert scale (strongly agree = 5, strongly disagree = 1), was given before and after the panel. The survey also included a short-answer section to elicit individual opinions on diabetes-related stigma. Survey responses were linked with 3 identifier questions to preserve anonymity.

Results: Twelve participants completed both the pre- and post-panel survey. Seven were female (58%), 10 were white (83%), and 8 were from suburban communities (67%). Out of the 33 questions on the DAS-3 questionnaire, there were statistically significant changes regarding the belief that “diabetes affects almost every part of a diabetic person’s life” (mean increased from 4.33 to 4.92, p=0.012) and that “the important decisions regarding daily diabetes care should be made by the person with diabetes” (mean increased from 4.08 to 4.67, p= 0.046).

Conclusion: Contact-based education can be considered as a tool for reducing diabetes-related stigma among medical trainees.


W. Wan: None. J.L. Wardian: None.

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