So have you seen the new Know Your A1c national public education campaign? It's supported by a coalition of all the big names in diabetes organizations -- the ADA, JDRF, American Association of Diabetes Educators and the National Council of La Raza (the nation's biggest Hispanic D-advocacy group) -- and backed by a half-dozen major D-pharma players -- Abbott, Bayer, LifeScan, Roche, Novartis, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi-Aventis.
Expert observers say the campaign "signals a watershed for recognizing diabetes as a public health crisis," bringing the condition "unprecedented public attention." Watch the video of top D-consultant Kelly Close explaining its import HERE.
Personally, my first reaction was: The ADA and the JDRF working together? Now that IS a "watershed" move... Then I viewed the spot, and just loved the bit about the shrimp scampi. Funny approach! Thank goodness for that.
Of course, at the base of it, I think anything we can do to get people with diabetes aware of their own state of health is fabulous. Kudos to these organizations for reaching out to the masses this way.
But here's what frustrates me a bit:
As Scott points out: "having a number is useless unless the patient has a relationship with a healthcare team, so merely pushing (people) to get the A1c test falls woefully short of what is really needed -- comprehensive diabetes education combined with regular care and constant vigilance."
With diabetes, it's always a focus on the darn numbers, often with far too little explanation of what these numbers really mean to a patient, or what the patient can actually DO to improve their numbers if they aren't good.
While I was writing our Know Your Numbers book last summer, a friend of mine from college who was recently diagnosed with Type 2 called to ask me "an embarrassing question." What he said was this:
"So they sent me home with this glucose meter... but my numbers are just high all the time... what I am supposed to do with these numbers, anyway?"
Wow. How ridiculous! This is a highly educated guy (with a master's degree, running a university IT department), and even he didn't get a decent explanation from his doctor of why or how to use the information his BG meter provides. But he was using his meter, and getting the numbers. So by some counts, he was "taking care of his diabetes." Aaaarrgh!!
My fear is that the take-away from these new "Know Your A1c" spots will be the same age-old, one-shot fix-it mentality, as in "I got the test, so now I 'took care' of my diabetes." If the result is out of range, the onus is totally on the patient to seek out the Diabetes Coalition online tips, and/or find a healthcare provider to help them. Presumably, the audience for these ads has some major barriers to both. So does the push just get the test alone really provide a valuable service?
I'm sure most of you reading DiabetesMine.com have a more holistic and proactive approach to your diabetes management. But you probably know at least a few relatives or friends who don't. So what do you all think? Will a widespread "Know Your A1c" TV campaign be helpful for them, or just serve to feed the existing misconceptions about diabetes and how to take care it?