This study aimed to explore if group-based peer support as an additional component to a disease management programme (DMP) in type 2 diabetes can reduce the number of prescribed drugs; hospital admissions; and length of hospital stay and therefore be a cost-effective model.
Controlled study based on a secondary data analysis of a cluster randomized trial. Our study population was general practitioners and patients in the province of Salzburg. The 24-months intervention consisted of regular group meetings facilitated by trained peer supporters. The groups exercised together, discussed diabetes related topics, and received support by professionals. Data was anonymously collected on clusters through the statutory health insurance.
Data were available of 118 (82.5%,17 clusters of the patients in the original randomized trial) participants in the intervention and 143 (77.3%,19 clusters) in the control groups. The length of hospital stay was shorter in the intervention groups compared with controls. The mean difference during the 24-month study period was -40.13 days (95% CI - 78.54 to - 1.71, P = 0.041) in favour of the intervention groups. No differences were seen in the number of prescribed drugs and hospital admission. Estimated yearly savings by reducing the length of hospital stay was €1660.60 per patient.
A group-based peer support programme as an additional component of a DMP in type 2 diabetes is a promising approach to optimize diabetes care and to enhance lifestyle interventions in primary care. Peer support seems to reduce length of hospital stay and could therefore be a cost-effective model.