Objective: To test an active-learning, empowerment approach to teaching patients about the "diabetes ABCs" (hemoglobin A 1C, systolic blood pressure, and low density lipoprotein cholesterol). Methods: 84 (97%) diabetic patients who participated in a randomized effectiveness trial of two clinic-based group educational methods and completed a post-intervention assessment. The empowerment arm participated in a group session that incorporated two educational innovations (a conceptual metaphor to foster understanding, and team-based learning methods to foster active learning). The traditional diabetes education arm received a didactic group session focused on self-management and educational materials about the diabetes ABCs. Participants in both arms received individual review of their current ABC values. Results: A questionnaire evaluated knowledge, understanding, and recall of the diabetes ABCs was administered three months after enrollment in the study. At three months, participants in the empowerment group demonstrated greater understanding of the diabetes ABCs (P< 0.0001), greater knowledge of their own values (P< 0.0001), and greater knowledge of guideline-derived target goals for the ABCs compared with participants in the traditional arm (P< 0.0001). Conclusion: An active-learning, empowerment-based approach applied to diabetes education can lead to greater understanding and knowledge retention. Practice implications: An empowerment approach to education can facilitate informed, activated patients and increase performance of self-management behaviors.
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