Study Indicates Latinos Benefit From Diabetes Education

A diabetes self-management education program delivered by community health workers may be effective in improving the blood sugar levels and behavioral skills among Hispanics/Latinos with type 2 diabetes, according to a recent University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) study.

“Community health workers can be effective in delivering culturally-appropriate diabetes self-management education,” Amparo Castillo MD, lead author and visiting training and research coordinator in the UIC Jane Addams College of Social Work, stated in the pilot study, published in the July/August issue of The Diabetes Educator.

“Other positive outcomes were an increase in diabetes knowledge, physical activity, spacing carbohydrates, following a healthy eating plan, and eating fruits and vegetables,” Castillo stated.” Improved behaviors also included foot care, glucose self-monitoring, and medication adherence, according to the study.”

Researchers from UIC’s Midwest Latino Health Research, Training and Policy Center developed the Diabetes Empowerment Education Program, a series of education sessions to help people living with or at-risk for diabetes to address their self-care needs.

Castillo and her team trained community health workers to present the program. Hispanic participants with self-reported type 2 diabetes were recruited at two Southeast Chicago community self-care centers, and 47 provided pretest and posttest data for the study.

“The findings suggest the importance of community health workers in diabetes self-management,” Castillo continued. “A longer term randomized trial is needed to confirm the results.”

The study was conducted under the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health or REACH 2010 initiative funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Aida Giachello, associate professor of social work and director of the Midwest Latino Health Research, Training and Policy Center, was the study’s principal investigator.

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