Diabetes Resources: Where To Go for Help
Seminar Offers Advice for Finding Reputable Advice Online
"Unlike years ago when I became a diabetes educator, people now have greater access to information about diabetes because of the abundance of resources found on the Internet," says Washington Hospital Inpatient Diabetes Educator Diana Jaycox, RN, CDE, MSN. "While there is a lot of information available online, that information may or may not be accurate. So the question is, how do you know if the information comes from a reliable source?"
To help people answer that question, Washington Hospital is sponsoring a free "Diabetes Matters" class, featuring a presentation by Jaycox on ways to find accurate, comprehensive information about diabetes online. The class is scheduled for Thursday, January 3, from 7 to 8 p.m. in the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium in the Washington West Building at 2500 Mowry Avenue in Fremont. A Diabetes Support Group session will follow the presentation.
"When you're doing research online, you need to make sure the information is from a well respected organization or an individual with acceptable medical credentials, such as a physician, nurse or certified diabetes educator," Jaycox says. "Some of the best organizational Web sites are produced by the American Diabetes Association, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health's MedlinePlus Web site. There also is a newer resource called 'dLife,' sponsored by a group of physicians and diabetes educators, that offers reputable information both online and on a weekly television program on CNBC."
Jaycox also cautions that there may be inaccurate, and sometimes dangerous, advice available in various online discussion groups and "blogs."
"Some qualified diabetes educators have blogs, but you really do need to be careful," she says. "Beware of people who try to pass themselves off as experts, research their backgrounds and credentials. Also, when you're involved in online discussion groups or social media sites such as Facebook, watch out for information that is just someone's 'personal experience' and is not evidence based."
At the class, Jaycox will be providing participants with a guide to online diabetes resources and the kinds of information they provide, using a live Internet connection to show people how to find the resources and use various Web sites. She also will be discussing the "Seven Keys of Diabetes Self Management" developed by the American Association of Diabetes Educators and the American Diabetes Association, and matching those "keys" with appropriate resources.
"One of the keys to managing your diabetes is healthy eating," she explains. "So we'll be talking about where to go for information on diets and nutrition. One good example would be the 'Living Well with Diabetes' section of the American Diabetes Association's Web site, where they offer recipes as well as general discussions of healthy eating habits."
The other keys to diabetes self-management that she will discuss include:
- being active,
- healthy ways to cope with stress,
- taking medications properly,
- problem solving for high or low blood sugar levels,
- tests for reducing risks for complications, and
- monitoring blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
A certified diabetes educator with a master's degree in clinical case management for patients with diabetes, Jaycox has seen firsthand the dangers of information that does more harm than good.
"People need to be wary of claims for nutritional supplements or other products or treatments that claim to 'cure' diabetes or its complications," she says. "I had one patient who read an article online that claimed certain anti-oxidants would cure her pain from diabetic neuropathy. The article recommended eating certain fruits containing antioxidants. She drastically increased her consumption of fruit and had a serious rise in her blood sugar level because of the fructose sugars in fruit. She ended up in the hospital with serious complications and dehydration."
The lesson to be learned, Jaycox says, is: "If you read something online or elsewhere, or if someone tells you they learned something online or from a friend, check out the information with your doctor or diabetes educator before trying anything new. People sometimes don't want to 'bother' their doctor, or perhaps pay for an office visit, but it's definitely worth a phone call.
"We really do want people to be able to self-manage their diabetes," she adds. "We just want to be sure they have the right information to help them do it."
Diabetes Matters is a free, monthly diabetes education class followed by group discussions. For more information on Diabetes Matters and the upcoming class, visit www.whhs.com/diabetes or call (510) 745-6556.