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New Study Shows Critical Importance of Community Outreach In Chronic Disease Care

Oct 15, 2019

We talk a lot as diabetes care and education specialists of meeting people where they are in their journey with diabetes and providing person-centered care. I wonder how many of us are meeting people where they are in a physical sense? 

A recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine looked at an intervention to help African American males manage their blood pressure. In the study, pharmacists in collaborative practice agreements with primary care providers who went to barber shops and through medication management and lifestyle training interventions were able to show a marked (28 mmHg) and sustained reduction in systolic blood pressure at 6 months. The reduction sustained at 12 months when the pharmacist was not as visible but the person in the study was able to continue to monitor their blood pressure when coming to the barber shop. Training was also given to the barbers. This is an example of physically going to where the people are.

This study shows me two things: 1) the greater role pharmacists can play in chronic disease management (one of my favorite themes) and 2) the power of outreach in non-clinical settings. In diabetes care and prevention, when programs move beyond their walls into churches or community centers, a bigger audience is reached. These programs are often funded through grant programs or presented as a volunteer opportunity. Going where people are is one of the reasons we should try to attend health fairs, even if we only get to truly educate/advise a handful of people. This is our way of providing access to the most vulnerable and in-need who are working to manage their diabetes. 

At the ADA Scientific Session this summer, Gretchen Youssef, MS, RD, CDE, ADA President for Health Care & Education described access to care and education as the “foundation of optimal health, outcomes, quality of life and affordable medical costs” for those with diabetes. So not only do we as diabetes care and education specialists need to continue to practice the quality person-centered care we are known for, but we need to be able to get it to the people. Think about what your outreach may look like. What might a diabetes lifestyle education program look like at a food bank? Or at a community center in an underserved neighborhood? I recently spent a Saturday at a local biannual vision clinic. I didn’t see many people, but those I did see were really in need and I left wishing we had more community resources. Programs like this study work and really help the health of the community.

If you are engaged in programs like this study, I encourage you to write about them. Let the world know about the qualitative and quantitative (if you have it) impact. Apply for grants to help expand your outreach. And include community members in setting up these programs, after all, they know what the community needs and is able to do. Perhaps in doing so, we may expand our diabetes care and education specialist family.


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About the Author: 

Chris Memering, BSN, RN, CDE, FAADE, has been a nurse since 2002 and a diabetes educator since 2007. She became a Certified Diabetes Educator in June of 2010. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and Nursing from the University of Virginia. Chris is a member of Sigma Theta Tau, the nursing honor society. She was a 2012 Clinical Excellence Award Winner from CarolinaEast, which is a peer recognition award for excellence in many areas of nursing and clinical expertise. Chris has served as the Chair of the North Carolina Coordinating Body for the American Association of Diabetes Educators, Inpatient Community of Interest Lead, and serves on the North Carolina Diabetes Advisory Council, as well as the advisory board to a local community pharmacy AADE DSMES Program. Currently, Chris serves on the Board of Directors for AADE and became a Fellow of AADE in 2018.


AADE Perspectives on Diabetes Care

The American Association of Diabetes Educators Perspectives on Diabetes Care covers diabetes, prediabetes and other cardiometabolic conditions. Not all views expressed reflect the official position of the American Association of Diabetes Educators.

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