People struggling to control their type 2 diabetes could have improved management following telephone interventions that include talking to their partner, according to new research.
A year-long study involved 280 couples in which one partner had poorly controlled type 2 diabetes, with HbA1c levels of 59 mmol/mol (7.5%) or higher, and the other did not have diabetes.
All participants received two initial 75-minute calls in which they received diabetes education and were then split into three groups.
Two of the groups received 10 additional phone calls to provide additional support. In one group the call was to the individual with type 2 diabetes (individuals calls group); in the second group the call was made to both partners of the couple (couples calls group); and in the third group couples received no additional calls after the initial diabetes education (diabetes education group).
At the start of the study, the average HbA1c level of the participants with diabetes was 76 mmol/mol (9.1%). The researchers analysed the effect of the different calls by looking at how participants with different levels of diabetes control responded differently.
The different categories of diabetes control yielded the following results:

59-66 mmol/mol (7.5–8.2%): no improvement in HbA1c in any group of calls
67-77 mmol/mol (8.3-9.2%): only couples calls led to a significant improvement in HbA1c
78 mmol/mol and over (9.3% and over): all groups had significantly improved HbA1c levels

The results showed that out of the three groups, the group that received calls to both partners (couples call group) was the best of the interventions.
Dr Paula Trief, who is Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences at Upstate University Hospital, led the research.
Speaking to Medscape Medical News, she said: I think the effect on the middle-tertile group was quite striking, especially since that’s the group most clinicians see in their practices… While it can take time to have these discussions, if it positively engages the partner it can be worth it.”
The study is published in the Diabetes Care journal.

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