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Can Fam Physician. 2017 Feb;63(2):e128-e136.

Patients' experiences of diabetes education teams integrated into primary care.

Author information

Dietitian at Idlewyld Manor in Hamilton, Ont.
Associate Professor in the Daphne Cockwell School of Nursing at Ryerson University in Toronto, Ont.
Associate Professor in the School of Nutrition at Ryerson University.



To explore patients' perspectives on care received from diabetes education teams (a registered nurse and a registered dietitian) integrated into primary care.


Qualitative study using semistructured, one-on-one interviews.


Three diabetes education programs operating in 11 primary care sites in one region of Ontario.


Twenty-three patients with diabetes.


Purposeful sampling was used to recruit participants from each site for interviews. Educator teams invited patients with whom they had met at least once to participate in semistructured interviews. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis with NVivo 11 software.


The diabetes education teams integrated into primary care exhibited many of the principles of person-centred care, as evidenced by the 2 overarching themes. The first is personalized care, with the subthemes care environment, shared decision making, and patient preference for one-on-one care. Participants described feeling included in partnerships with their health care providers, as they collaborated with physicians and diabetes educators to develop knowledge and set goals in the convenience and comfort of their usual primary care settings. Many participants also expressed a preference for one-on-one sessions. The second theme is patient-provider relationship, with the subthemes respect, supportive interaction, and facilitating patient engagement. Supportive environments created by the educators built trusting relationships, where patients expressed enhanced motivation to improve their self-care.


Diabetes educators integrated into primary care can serve to enrich the experience of patients, provide key education to improve patient understanding, and support primary care physicians in providing timely and comprehensive clinical care. Diabetes patients appear to benefit from convenient access to interprofessional teams of educators in primary care to support diabetes self-management.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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