When we discuss with others what we’re learning, we retain that new knowledge much better than when we just passively engage with the new information. Now, a diabetes organization is partnering with company that is determined to show health care professionals how to actively communicate with those of us who have diabetes.
The American Diabetes Association has already rolled out a program in which a Chicago-based company called Healthy Interactions Inc. will train more than 10,000 health care professionals during the next three years. These health care people are learning how to talk with us – not to us.
The people from Healthy Interactions invited me to take part last week in a small-group training session held at a fancy Denver hotel complete with a delicious – and low glycemic – dinner. Most of the others learning the training seemed to be Certified Diabetes Educators.
The new approach is based on sound theory. We retain only 10 percent of what we read, 20 percent of what we hear, 30 percent of graphics, and about half when we can both see and hear it. But when we discuss it with others our retention rates shoot up to 70 percent. I saw these numbers on a slide they showed us in the training and that I photographed. They sound right to me.
These numbers are why the word “conversation” is key to the new training. The other word is “maps,” and it was harder to get my head around it – until I saw them and brought home a set for further study.
The main tools of the training are a set of five large (3 foot by 5 foot) graphics presented in a form similar to a child’s board game. The health care professionals can use them to guide the discussions among small groups of people with diabetes. Thus they call the training Diabetes Conversation Maps.
I enjoyed and learned from the conversations, and clearly the other trainees at my table did too, even though all of us work with diabetes all the time. In an article last week I wrote about how part of the discussion centered on statements on cards and determining if the statements were either myths or facts.
If diabetes were like other conditions where people can rely on their health care professionals to make decisions for them, these health care professionals wouldn’t have to learn how to foster discussion among us. They would just tell us what to do, as sadly many have done until now. But diabetes self-management is the cornerstone of our success in dealing with diabetes, and now the powers that be are beginning to recognize that they need to encourage us not only in words but also engage us.
Still, I take strong exception with a big part of map #4, “Continuing Your Journey with Diabetes.” Even the flag over this part of the map, “The Natural Course of Diabetes,” set my teeth on edge. And the content jarred me even more:
“In type 2 diabetes, there is a gradual loss of the beta cells that make insulin. Over time, there are not enough of these cells to meet the insulin needs of the body and to keep blood glucose in the target range.”