Increasing uptake of structured self-management education programmes for type 2 diabetes in a primary care setting: a feasibility study


Background Structured self-management education (SSME) for people with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) improves biomedical and psychological outcomes, whilst being cost-effective. Yet uptake in the UK remains low. An ‘Embedding Package’ addressing barriers and enablers to uptake at patient, health care professional and organisational levels has been developed. The aim of this study was to test the feasibility of conducting a subsequent randomised controlled trial (RCT) to evaluate the Embedding Package in primary care, using a mixed methods approach.

Methods A concurrent mixed methods approach was adopted. Six general practices in the UK were recruited and received the intervention (the Embedding Package). Pseudonymised demographic, biomedical and SSME data were extracted from primary care medical records for patients recorded as having a diagnosis of T2DM. Descriptive statistics assessed quantitative data completeness and accuracy. Quantitative data were supplemented and validated by a patient questionnaire, for which two recruitment methods were trialled. Where consent was given, the questionnaire and primary care data were linked and compared. The cost of the intervention was estimated. An integrated qualitative study comprising ethnography and stakeholder and patient interviews explored the process of implementation, sustainability of change and ‘fit’ of the intervention. Qualitative data were analysed using a thematic framework guided by the Normalisation Process Theory (NPT).

Results Primary care data were extracted for 2877 patients. The primary outcome for the RCT, HbA1c, was over 90% complete. Questionnaires were received from 423 (14.7%) participants, with postal invitations yielding more participants than general practitioner (GP) prompts. Ninety-one percent of questionnaire participants consented to data linkage. The mean cost per patient for the Embedding Package was £8.94, over a median follow-up of 162.5 days. Removing the development cost, this reduces to £5.47 per patient. Adoption of ethnographic and interview methods in the collection of data was appropriate, and the use of NPT, whilst challenging, enhanced the understanding of the implementation process. The need to delay the collection of patient interview data to enable the intervention to inform patient care was highlighted.

Conclusions It is feasible to collect data with reasonable completeness and accuracy for the subsequent RCT, although refinement to improve the quality of the data collected will be undertaken. Based on resource use data collected, it was feasible to produce cost estimates for each individual component of the Embedding Package. The methods chosen to generate, collect and analyse qualitative data were satisfactory, keeping participant burden low and providing insight into potential refinements of the Embedding Package and customisation of the methods for the RCT.


open access article



Davies, M., Kristunas, C.A., Huddlestone, L., Abualbishr, A., Bodicoat, D., Dixon, S., Eborall, H., Glab, A., Hudson, N., Khunti, K., Martin, G., Patterson, M., Pritchard, R., Schreder, S., Stribling, B., Turner, J., Gray, L.J. (2020) Increasing uptake of structured self-management education programmes for type 2 diabetes in a primary care setting: a feasibility study. Pilot and Feasibility Studies, 6, 71.


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