By Diana Malkin, PhD, MPH, R.D.N, CDE, CD-N
Community health education work within faith-based organizations has historically been very limited, especially amongst underserved populations that are distrustful of the medical community. The Muslim community that we are working with is a close-knit family of approximately 200 members of a mosque in the South and Central Bronx, NY. To even start the project, we had to meet with the elders several times to explain the initiative and be very transparent of the collection of data (A1C, weight, blood pressure, demographics) and make sure the data collected would be de-identified.
With funding from AADE’s Reaching Out for Better Health Program, the project will utilize a train the trainer format to deliver diabetes self-management education and support services (DSMES) and measure knowledge. It includes two Registered Dietitians and Certified Diabetes Educators that are training two community health workers (CHWs), one from BronxCare Health System (BCHS) and one from the mosque, who will meet once per month over five months. During the same time frame, the CHWs will deliver DSMES to group members from the mosque. At the end of the project, there will be a focus group to listen to feedback from those who attended the group education sessions.
Our goal is to encourage participants to increase physical activity, check blood sugars more frequently, be more aware of foods that affect blood sugars and take note of medication taking. Many cultures do not see mental health as significant so by incorporating mental information or coping strategies we hope to encourage this population to be more open with their feelings.
We hope this initiative leads to a sustainable venue that will continue long after this project ends. In addition, we will use lessons learned to expand this work to other faith base organizations.