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A critical dialogue: communicating with type 2 diabetes patients about cardiovascular risk

Authors Paris Roach, David Marrero

Published 15 December 2005 Volume 2005:1(4) Pages 301—307

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Paris Roach, David Marrero

Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN, USA

Abstract: Patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM) are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD), and many patients are inadequately treated for risk factors such as hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and smoking. Providing individualized risk information in a clear and engaging manner may serve to encourage both patients and their physicians to intensify risk-reducing behaviors and therapies. This review outlines simple and effective methods for making CVD risk infomation understandable to persons of all levels of literacy and mathematical ability. To allow the patient to understand what might happen and how, personal risk factors should be clearly communicated and the potential consequences of a CVD event should be presented in a graphic but factual manner. Risk calculation software can provide CVD risk estimates, and the resulting information can be made understandable by assigning risk severity (eg, “high”) by comparing clinical parameters with accepted treatment targets and by comparing the individual’s risk with that of the “average” person. Patients must also be informed about how they might reduce their CVD risk and be supported in these efforts. Thoughtful risk communication using these techniques can improve access to health information for individuals of low literacy, especially when interactive computer technology is employed. Research is needed to find the best methods for communicating risk in daily clinical practice.

Keywords: cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular risk, risk communication

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