Diabetes agents are some of the most common medicines associated with emergency department visits for adverse drug events (ADEs) in people age 65 and older. As such, diabetes agents are one of three medication classes included in the National Action Plan for ADE Prevention. To help achieve the plan, ODPHP developed Preventing Adverse Drug Events: Individualizing Glycemic Targets Using Health Literacy Strategies.
The training is designed to help health professionals reduce hypoglycemic ADEs in patients with diabetes — particularly older adults, who are at higher risk for ADEs. It focuses on effective communication strategies that can increase patients’ health literacy — or their ability to access, understand, and use health information. Health literacy is an important predictor of self-care behaviors in people with type 2 diabetes, and it plays a key role in their ability to recognize symptoms of hypoglycemia.
Health professionals who complete the training learn about the national burden of hypoglycemic ADEs and the importance of working with diabetes patients to set individualized glycemic goals. They also practice using health literacy strategies to help patients understand and act on information to prevent ADEs. The training emphasizes 2 health literacy strategies:
- Shared decision making: In the shared decision-making process, health professionals and patients work together to set goals and solve problems related to the patient’s care. Participants learn how to use shared decision making to engage patients in their care and help prevent hypoglycemic ADEs. Participants hear real-life examples of shared decision making that show how it can improve providers’ understanding of patient priorities.
- Teach-back method: This effective strategy helps health professionals confirm that they’ve explained what patients need to know in an easy-to-understand way so that patients can self-manage their diabetes with greater confidence. During the training, participants hear sample teach-back questions and watch a video that demonstrates a teach-back scenario.
The key takeaway from the training is that patient-centered communication strategies and individualized care plans can help reduce the risk of hypoglycemic ADEs in patients taking diabetes agents. Taking the training can help health professionals develop the skills they need to engage patients, use an individualized approach, and ultimately ensure safe and effective use of diabetes medicines.
Note: The American Public Health Association offers free continuing education credits (CME, CNE, and CHES) for completing the training.