Type 2 diabetes can seriously affect patients' health-related quality of life and their self-rated health. Most often, evaluation of diabetes interventions assess effects on glycemic control with little consideration of quality of life. The aim of the current study was to study the effectiveness of group-based rehabilitation versus individual counselling on health-related quality of life (HRQOL) and self-rated health in type 2 diabetes patients.
We randomised 143 type 2 diabetes patients to either a six-month multidisciplinary group-based rehabilitation programme including patient education, supervised exercise and a cooking-course or a six-month individual counselling programme. HRQOL was measured by Medical Outcomes Study Short Form 36-item Health Survey (SF-36) and self-rated health was measured by Diabetes Symptom Checklist - Revised (DCS-R).
In both groups, the lowest estimated mean scores of the SF36 questionnaire at baseline were "vitality" and "general health". There were no significant differences in the change of any item between the two groups after the six-month intervention period. However, vitality-score increased 5.2 points (p = 0.12) within the rehabilitation group and 5.6 points (p = 0.03) points among individual counselling participants.
In both groups, the highest estimated mean scores of the DSC-R questionnaire at baseline were "Fatigue" and "Hyperglycaemia". Hyperglycaemic and hypoglycaemic distress decreased significantly after individual counselling than after group-based rehabilitation (difference -0.3 points, p = 0.04). No between-group differences occurred for any other items. However, fatigue distress decreased 0.40 points within the rehabilitation group (p = 0.01) and 0.34 points within the individual counselling group (p < 0.01). In the rehabilitation group cardiovascular distress decreased 0.25 points (p = 0.01).
A group-based rehabilitation programme did not improve health-related quality of life and self-rated health more than an individual counselling programme. In fact, the individual group experienced a significant relief in hyper- and hypoglycaemic distress compared with the rehabilitation group.
However, the positive findings of several items in both groups indicate that lifestyle intervention is an important part of the management of type 2 diabetes patients.