Using community health care workers to better control diabetes in Mexican American community

August 23, 2013

(Medical Xpress)—The prevalence of diabetes among Hispanic Americans is growing and their likelihood of being hospitalized for uncontrolled diabetes is two times greater than that of non-Hispanic Whites. Rather than a new drug, the prescription for controlling diabetes may be a person.

In the Mexican American Trial of Community Health Workers (MATCH) study, participants in the control group received bi-weekly diabetes education from a bilingual newsletter that was mailed to their homes. The other participants were visited in their homes by community health workers who followed a specific teaching curriculum.

After the first year of the study, participants that used community health workers showed a significant improvement over the control group in managing their Type 2 diabetes. An even greater improvement was seen after the second year of the study. Results of the study, which was conducted in Chicago, were published in the online version of the American Journal of Public Health on August 15.

"In many populations that experience health care inequality, frontline public health professionals, called community health workers, empower people to take better care of themselves while saving money in the health system," said Dr. Steven Rothschild, a preventive medicine and family practice physician at Rush University Medical Center.

Community act as a liaison between doctors and nurses and community members. They not only provide health information, but also coach patients in how to apply the information at home and at work. Additionally, because they share the same culture and language and have knowledge of the community, they can more effectively engage to control better than other methods.

"The key is helping people take action to live healthier lives," Dr. Rothschild said. "Community health care workers are already in some neighborhoods, but are widely under-used throughout the country. Anybody can change for a few weeks or a couple of months, but sustaining a lifestyle for a longer period of time is huge," Dr. Rothschild said. "Even though both groups received the same diabetes management information that they would get going to a health clinic, participants who were educated by a community health worker had better results than those who were not."

Although this study focused on Mexican Americans with Type 2 diabetes, it adds a rigorous randomized controlled trial to a body of research that shows that people with chronic conditions that require an independent behavioral lifestyle change can benefit more greatly from the use of community health care workers than from other methods.

"Our hope is that people will increasingly consider workers as an essential part of the team and that insurers will start to look at reimbursement possibilities as a strategy to reduce costs," said Dr. Rothschild. "Compared to the cost of medication, the salary and benefits for community is a modest investment that can improve health and reduce long-term costs."

Explore further: Community health workers help type 2 diabetes care

Related Stories

Community health workers help type 2 diabetes care

February 11, 2013
Newly published results from a randomized controlled clinical trial in the Pacific U.S. territory of American Samoa add clear evidence for the emerging idea that community health workers can meaningfully improve type 2 diabetes ...

Community-based lifestyle program improves diets of pregnant Latina women

June 26, 2013
A healthy lifestyle intervention program tailored to Spanish-speaking pregnant Latinas significantly increased their daily consumption of vegetables and fiber.

Paramedics could help close state's health-care gaps

August 16, 2013
In a new report, the UC Davis Institute for Population Health Improvement (IPHI) recommends that the state launch pilot programs to test a new model of community-based health care that would expand the role of paramedics ...

Fear of deportation not an issue for farmworkers who receive care from community health centers

July 10, 2013
Migrant workers are more likely to receive medical care from community health centers in partnership with faith-based organizations, a new study shows, because fear of deportation is lower than they might face at other medical ...

TEDMED: Patients can become leaders on the health team

April 22, 2013
(HealthDay)—Identifying and engaging leaders from within a community is critical for creating meaningful change at a community-wide level, according to a leading physician educator who presented at TEDMED 2013, held from ...

Breakthroughs in diabetes treatment: Better outcomes, lower cost

March 19, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—When Jeffrey Katula and his research colleagues set out to determine if they could help prevent patients from developing diabetes using group-based problem solving, he didn't expect such drastic results.

Recommended for you

Brain disease seen in most football players in large report

July 25, 2017
Research on 202 former football players found evidence of a brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them, from athletes in the National Football League, college and even high school.

Safety of medical devices not often evaluated by sex, age, or race

July 25, 2017
Researchers at Yale and the University of California-San Francisco have found that few medical devices are analyzed to consider the influence of their users' sex, age, or race on safety and effectiveness.

Why you should consider more than looks when choosing a fitness tracker

July 25, 2017
A UNSW study of five popular physical activity monitors, including Fitbit and Jawbone models, has found their accuracy differs with the speed of activity, and where they are worn.

Dog walking could be key to ensuring activity in later life

July 24, 2017
A new study has shown that regularly walking a dog boosts levels of physical activity in older people, especially during the winter.

Alcohol to claim 63,000 lives over next five years, experts warn

July 24, 2017
Alcohol consumption will cause 63,000 deaths in England over the next five years – the equivalent of 35 deaths a day – according to a new report from the University of Sheffield Alcohol Research Group.

Alcohol boosts recall of earlier learning

July 24, 2017
Drinking alcohol improves memory for information learned before the drinking episode began, new research suggests.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.