Diabetes is an epidemic in the United States. With 25.8 million people of our population effected by the disease and more diagnoses added each year, the question is what will stop the frequency of this disease/condition. Campaigns across the nation have made preventative efforts in community health education by focusing on topics like genetics,nutrition, physical activity, body weight/BMI, and life style choices. These are all great measures, and have made a difference in community health by helping to decrease the prevalence of risk factors for Type II Diabetes such as childhood obesity.
Yet, there is still a long way to go. We have only begun to take charge of the issues that cause Diabetes(high sugar intake, overweight, heredity.....). So what will convince people to take their lifestyle choices more seriously? Perhaps something to take into consideration is exposing more of the end results to the public.
For instance, instead of only saying diabetes is bad news, exposing people to true stories about the hardships of having the condition might have a strong effect. Diabetes can be controlled more easily now than ever before, but more and more people are confusing modern treatment with a ticket to non-problematic and asymptomatic lives.
When it comes to public education about Diabetes, it seems that the information always stops at "Diabetes is bad. Don't get it." Little is said about how things such as Chronic Kidney Disease and dialysis are connected to diabetes. Most of the public has heard the term dialysis, but much like diabetes, people only know that it exists instead of a general understanding of what happens to a person's body while afflicted with diabetes and how one is eventually treated with dialysis.
By changing the public's understanding of what diabetes and dialysis are, a lasting effect on health behaviors might take place. Faster response to having a kidney disease may happen as well. It should be noted that not all diabetes and kidney disease is a result of poor health behaviors. But if people are more aware about the consequences of either ignoring the signs of diabetes, or continuance of unhealthy lifestyle choices, their minds might change about the choices they make.
It's reasonable to say that most people would not like going through dialysis; especially upon learning it must happen three times per week, and for hours at a time. Americans' time is very precious.
Granted, the public has a limited attention span. Thus the message about the results of unattended diabetes must be short, but not completely sweet. There is room for the scare tactic in preventative health. While it should not be the only method, it should be utilized. This method works for some people, so tell everyone 'the whole story.'
Essentially, the message conveyed should be sure to include the following:
- constant worries about blood sugar levels
- added daily medications (i.e. insulin)
- higher risk for more serious conditions ( i.e. Chronic Kidney Disease, Kidney failure)
- dialysis patients need to be on a special diet
- dialysis can take up to four hours, and often needs to be done three times a week.
- there is some discomfort during the process
- blood pressure sometimes drops due to dialysis, and some people get sick.
- dialysis is expensive( even though 80% of the cost is covered by the government or insurance)
- Peritoneal Dialysis is invasive
- Dialysis is tiring and patients are often fatigued after the process is finished.
Of course this is a challenge being proposed here, but most communication to the public is after all a challenge. We should try everything we can think of to positively influence people's health decisions in order to better the health of communities, including the sharing of sad information.