Cherrington, Andrea Lynne, MD
Developing a mobile health intervention to link diabetes community health workers with primary care.
General Research Subject: Type 2 Diabetes
Focus: Diabetes Education
Type of Grant: Clinical Translational Research
Project Start Date: January 1, 2012
Project End Date: December 31, 2014
What area of diabetes research does your project cover? What role will this particular project play in preventing, treating and/or curing diabetes?
Diabetes management strategies suitable for widespread adoption in diverse community settings are sorely needed. Peer support is a promising strategy for improving diabetes self-management, with emerging evidence to support its effectiveness, particularly in underserved communities. However, it is unclear how peer support programs can work with primary care efforts to improve patient outcomes. Mobile health technology (mHealth) has the potential to connect peers with members of the health care team, creating synergy through the bidirectional exchange of information. The goal of this study is to develop an effective model for the integration of a community health worker (CHW) delivered peer support program with primary care-based efforts to improve diabetes health outcomes.
If a person with diabetes were to ask you how your project will help them in the future, how would you respond?
Patients spend a minimal amount of time at the doctor's office over the course of a year; the majority of time is spent at home, at work, and in the community. Often there is a disconnect between the diabetes management recommendations patients receive in clinic and what happens when patients try and put those recommendations into practice in the real world. This project will use mobile health technology to connect what goes on in primary care with what is going on in the community. The integration of mHealth technology into CHW programs is innovative and has high potential to improve public health by creating synergy between community efforts and primary care and promoting a more comprehensive approach to diabetes management.
Why is it important for you, personally, to become involved in diabetes research? What role will this award play in your research efforts?
Diabetes touches so many lives and disproportionately affects a number of communities in this country. For the last eight years, my research has focused on developing, implementing and evaluating community-based interventions to prevent and manage diabetes in under-served communities, specifically using the Community Health Worker model. At the same time, I have continued to see patients, many of whom have diabetes, as a primary care provider in a local community health center. I often find myself wishing there was a better connection between what I do in the clinic and what goes on in the community. This project brings those worlds together, creating a user-friendly mode of communication between individuals providing care in clinical settings and individuals reaching out as advocates and educators in their own communities. This project will provide important information that could be used in a future, large-scale study to determine the intervention's effectiveness.
In what direction do you see the future of diabetes research going?
I believe we are moving towards a more individualized approach to diabetes management. Interventions that are tailored while attending to the contextual differences present in diverse community settings have the potential to really help patients manage their diabetes and improve health outcomes. This project is a step in that direction.
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