Assessment of Group Versus Individual Diabetes Education

A randomized study

  1. Patti. L. Rickheim, MS, RN, CDE,
  2. Todd W. Weaver, MPH,
  3. Jill. L. Flader, MS, RD, LD, CDE and
  4. David. M. Kendall, MD
  1. From The International Diabetes Center, Park Nicollet Institute, Minneapolis, Minnesota


    OBJECTIVES— The current study was conducted to compare the effectiveness of delivering diabetes education in either a group or individual setting using a consistent, evidence-based curriculum.

    RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS— A total of 170 subjects with type 2 diabetes were randomly assigned to either group (n = 87) or individual (n = 83) educational settings. Subjects received education in four sequential sessions delivered at consistent time intervals over a 6-month period. Outcomes included changes in knowledge, self-management behaviors, weight, BMI, HbA1c, health-related quality of life, patient attitudes, and medication regimen. Changes were assessed at baseline and after the 2-week, 3-month, and 6-month education sessions.

    RESULTS— Both educational settings had similar improvements in knowledge, BMI, health-related quality of life, attitudes, and all other measured indicators. HbA1c decreased from 8.5 ± 1.8% at baseline to 6.5 ± 0.8% at 6 months (P < 0.01) in the study population as a whole. Subjects assigned to the individual setting had a 1.7 ± 1.9% reduction in HbA1c (P < 0.01), whereas subjects assigned to the group setting had a 2.5 ± 1.8% reduction in HbA1c (P < 0.01). The difference in HbA1c improvement was marginally greater in subjects assigned to group education versus individualized education (P = 0.05).

    CONCLUSIONS— This study demonstrates that diabetes education delivered in a group setting, when compared with an individual setting, was equally effective at providing equivalent or slightly greater improvements in glycemic control. Group diabetes education was similarly effective in delivering key educational components and may allow for more efficient and cost-effective methods in the delivery of diabetes education programs.


    • Address correspondence and reprint requests to Patti L. Rickheim, MS, RN, CDE, International Diabetes Center, 3800 Park Nicollet Blvd., Minneapolis, MN 55416-2699. E-mail: rickhp{at}

      Received for publication 15 February 2001 and accepted in revised form 24 October 2001.

      A table elsewhere in this issue shows conventional and Système International (SI) units and conversion factors for many substances.

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