Conversation Maps Generate Healthy Conversation about Diabetes

| Dec 16, 2007

Conversation Maps look like a set of very large and colorful children's placemats. Three feet wide and five feet long, each map is covered with a kids-book-style landscape painting illustrating one of five topics:

The Healthy Eating Map, for example, shows a lively street scene and an outdoor food market.

More reminiscent of a kid's carpet or a Lego accessory than a diabetes education tool, the maps have a very ambitious goal: they aim to transform the way in which patients learn about diabetes. Used in a group composed of three to ten patients and led by a trained educator, they stimulate diabetes-focused conversation that lasts about two hours. The images on the maps create a "common mental model" that brings the patients together and gently prompts them to share stories, ask questions, and develop action plans to make behavior changes.

The maps come with downloadable tools, such as activity cards titled "Myth" and "Fact," to spark conversation and add to the entertaining feel of the experience. Through the use of these game-like elements, the entire map session becomes comfortable and non-threatening.

Thanks to a sponsorship by Merck and a partnership with the ADA, more than 10,000 diabetes healthcare professionals can receive free training in the use of Conversation Maps over the next three years, as well as a complimentary set of the maps and map accessories. To sign up for the training, healthcare professionals can go to

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