The American Association of Diabetes Educators conducts the National Practice Survey (NPS) biennially to document current practice in diabetes education in the United States. The purpose of the study is to obtain insight about factors influencing the work of the diabetes educator.Method
The 2017 NPS was comprised of 100 questions covering diabetes educator demographics, profile populations of people with diabetes, practice information, program accreditation, program curriculum, staffing, education delivery methods, data collection, and reporting. The basic survey consisted of 22 questions using branch logic, from which respondents were then directed to questions tailored to their particular practice setting, enabling them to answer only a relevant subset of the remaining questions. The web-based survey was sent to approximately 32 000 individuals who were either members of the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) or Certified Diabetes Educators (CDE) with the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators (NCBDE) but not AADE members. Weekly reminder e-mails were sent to recipients who had not yet responded. The outreach efforts resulted in the survey being completed by 4696 individuals, a 17% response rate yielding 95% confidence that these responses are within ±5% accuracy.Results
Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support (DSMES) continues to be a field dominated by women (95%). Diabetes educators represent a diverse health care profession, with educators indicating most commonly that their primary discipline is nursing (48%), nutrition (38%), and pharmacy (7%). When asked about credentials, 82.6% indicated that they held a CDE, 3.8% held the Board Certified-Advanced Diabetes Management (BC-ADM) credential, and 16.5% held neither the CDE nor the BC-ADM. Nearly 75% characterized their role as a diabetes educator as providing direct patient care. DSMES continued to be provided in a varied array of settings to educationally, socioeconomically, and racially diverse patient populations. DSMES was delivered using a number of different educational strategies. Diabetes educators have direct influence in care and services that people with diabetes receive.Conclusions
The results of the 2017 NPS demonstrate that diabetes educators are meeting the needs of varied populations in various practice settings. They are working with individuals with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, those at risk for diabetes, and women with gestational diabetes and are involved in recommending, implementing, and providing key referrals and recommendations for diabetes care, including insulin initiation, titration, medication adjustments, recommendations on devices, and technology. Identified areas for improvement include needs for increased racial and ethnic diversity in the workforce, recruiting young professionals, drawing practice approaches from related disciplines (eg, mental health and disability rehabilitation), and encouraging tracking of more areas of outcomes data. Diabetes educators are playing an increasingly central role within multidisciplinary care teams with people at risk for diabetes, those who have diabetes, and those with other chronic conditions.