Doctors show the value of stress management.
Doctors at Duke University have shown that stress management
therapy can improve long-term control of blood sugar in
While stress management therapy and stress counseling have been
shown to relieve symptoms and even improve outcome and prognosis
of myriad medical and emotional conditions, previous studies on
the value of stress therapy in diabetics have yielded
conflicting results. Those studies that showed a positive effect
were based upon the use of individual counseling and therapy
over a long period of time. Since long-term individual therapy
is not a practical solution for all diabetics, the researchers
investigated whether a group stress management training program
might be beneficial for control of diabetes.
The doctors studied 108 people over age 30 with Type II
The participants were divided into two groups, with both groups
receiving a five-session diabetes education program. In the
experimental group stress management training was included in
the sessions, while the control group received only the diabetes
education program. The stress training included information on
stress-related medical conditions as well as development of
skills to recognize and alleviate stress-related tension and
anxiety. The participants also received relaxation training in
the form of progressive muscle relaxation therapy.
Over the course of one year the participants filled out
questionnaires at regular intervals regarding their perceived
levels of stress, anxiety, and overall psychological well-being.
The researchers measured the participants' HbA1c levels
(indicative of long-term blood glucose control) at these same
intervals. A small but significant reduction (0.5%) in HbA1c
values was observed in the group receiving the supplemental
stress management training. A change as small as half a percent
can lead to a dramatic reduction in the vascular complications
thast arise when diabetes is poorly controlled.
These results, published in the January 2002 issue of Diabetes
Care, suggest that the practice of stress management techniques
and stress counseling can be of significant clinical benefit to
persons with diabetes.