Volume 12 Number 4, 1999, Page 212
Ann Albright PhD, RD, Guest Editor
Advocacy is an essential component of diabetes care. At first consideration, it may not be immediately apparent why this is so. But consider the following situations:
No matter what your professional or personal contact with diabetes, it is highly likely that you and your patients have experienced some inequity due to diabetes. What do you do about these and many other advocacy-related diabetes care challenges? Become involved in and support advocacy efforts.
By advocating for improved health care coverage, clinicians can do a better job of caring for patients with diabetes, and those with the disease can have access to the necessary tools and training that allow them to live with diabetes while research advances continue. By advocating for the elimination of discrimination, we can help those with diabetes be productive citizens and enjoy a quality of life that diabetes should not be allowed to take away. By advocating for increased research funding, we can help ensure continued advances in understanding, treating, and eventually preventing and curing diabetes.
Although the word advocate conjures up different images, it is defined as a supporter or defender. Supporters or defenders of those affected by diabetes need to come from a variety of places and backgrounds. Those who live with diabetes and their family members, health care professionals, policy makers, and legal and advocacy professionals must all be participants in diabetes advocacy. Each type of advocate plays a different role, but the contributions of each are vital to achieving success.
This From Research to Practice section is intended to provide a thoughtful discussion of a selected number of diabetes advocacy issues. The topics included are:
In addition, in the Special Report department of this issue of Diabetes Spectrum, you will find a related report on the status of research funding for diabetes and the Diabetes Research Working Group (DRWG).
The reach that diabetes advocacy can have is enormous. And while this is not an exhaustive presentation on advocacy, the topics covered provide a stimulating and thorough discussion of this vital element of diabetes care.
The use of legal advocacy to reach important
achievements in eliminating discrimination
It is important to remember that those with diabetes are not and cannot be requesting preferential treatment, but instead should expect and demand fair and consistent treatment. In order to achieve fair treatment, all people with diabetes must realize their responsibility to practice good care, and the legal system must be accessed when necessary to defend against injustice.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA), under the leadership of attorney Michael Greene, is working to protect the rights of those with diabetes. ADA is the only organization working on legal advocacy specifically for diabetes. In his article on legal advocacy, Greene describes the function and role of legal advocacy and provides direction on how to accomplish this important advocacy effort. A crucial element that is also addressed is the institutionalization of this work within the structure of the ADA.
The history and current state of health care
coverage, including state legislation and Medicare coverage
A discussion of advocating for children as
they negotiate through day care and school settings
A letter summarizing the activities of the
Congressional Diabetes Caucus
Today, the Diabetes Caucus is the largest caucus in the House of Representatives, and recently a Diabetes Caucus has been formed in the Senate, as well. As diabetes advocates, we need to continue to ask our elected officials about their position on diabetes issues and to provide positive feedback and support when they contribute to eliminating the burden of diabetes on our behalf.
A report on the status of research funding for
diabetes and the DRWG
Elsewhere in this issue of Diabetes Spectrum, Steve Smith, vice chair of the board of ADA and a member of the DRWG, provides an overview of the topics covered in the report and a discussion of the ways in which the report is being used as the centerpiece for research funding advocacy efforts. It is imperative that all who want to see research funding for diabetes increase make a strong commitment to achieving the funding levels recommended in this important report.
The authors who have contributed to this research section are all stellar examples of diabetes advocates who make significant contributions to improving diabetes. In addition to the valuable information these authors provide, their own efforts serve as motivation for each of us to consider how to become involved or to increase our efforts in diabetes advocacy. As health care professionals in diabetes, we all have the opportunity and responsibility to be advocates for diabetes.
2Harris M: Diabetes in America. 2nd ed. Bethesda, MD, National Institutes of Health, 1995, p. 1-13.
Copyright © 1999 American Diabetes Association
Last updated: 12/99