Approximately 32 million people in the EU live with diabetes, and each year more than 300,000 Europeans die from diabetes and related complications. Treatment of diabetes is costly, and takes up between 5 and 15% of the total health expenditure of EU countries. As diabetes is strongly associated with overweight and obesity, the rapidly increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity worldwide, in conjunction with an ageing population, makes the prevalence of diabetes and the associated cost of treatment likely to increase in the years to come.
In view of these developments, there is a need to strengthen the capacities of health systems in the EU Member States to treat and care for diabetes patients. Because diabetes requires extensive self-care, the capacities of patients to manage their own illness and care process are a key determinant of treatment outcomes. To enhance these capacities, education on self-management and lifestyle modification for people with diabetes is widely recommended and used.
Self-management education programs vary from individual education of diabetic patients to more cost-effective alternatives, such as group education, support groups and self-help programs. A promising evolution is the development of internet and IT-based self-management programs, which can expand the capacity and reach of health care systems.
However, whereas an investment in self-management education would seem an effective way to increase effectiveness and reduce the cost of diabetes treatment and care in the EU Member States, several questions must be addressed before the large scale implementation of such education can be recommended as part of a comprehensive diabetes strategy.
The DIABETES LITERACY project aims to investigate a number of critical success factors of diabetes self management, with a view to make suggestions to increase the effectiveness of self-management education as part of a comprehensive diabetes strategy at EU level.
The DIABETES LITERACY project will produce the following results:
The project suggestions will increase the effectiveness of diabetes self-management education in the EU Member States, and contribute to a comprehensive diabetes strategy at EU level. Its results will also be applicable to other chronic disease where self-management education plays a relevant role, including chronic heart conditions or joints diseases.