Problem solving is integral to successful self-management by those with diabetes, yet it is reportedly the most difficult skill to teach. The American Association of Diabetes Educators hosted a Problem Solving Symposium during which 15 invited thought leaders from multiple disciplines examined current knowledge about problem solving and the translation of empirical findings into the practice of diabetes self-management education. This report summarizes the moderated discussion and highlights the key points of interest to diabetes educators and other providers involved with diabetes care.
The participants reviewed findings from the literature and engaged in a moderated discussion with the aim of providing practical advice for health care practitioners regarding problem solving in diabetes self-management.
Eleven key points emerged from the discussion, along with practical recommendations for developing and implementing effective problem-solving interventions.
Problem solving is a process, an intervention, and a set of skills. The process consists of several steps, beginning with identification of the problem. Problem solving interfaces with other self-care behaviors and is influenced by the provider’s skills as well as the patient’s own perspectives, background, and external factors. Diabetes educators can help patients become experienced and skilled in problem solving. Approaches must be tailored to the patient; this can be facilitated by conducting a thorough patient assessment. Further research is needed to shed more light on approaches to problem solving in health education settings. Lessons learned from this research may be used to guide research and practice in diabetes self-management education as well as across the field of health promotion.
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