Integration and Utilization of Peer Leaders for Diabetes Self-Management Support: Results From Project SEED (Support, Education, and Evaluation in Diabetes)

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of the study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a peer leader-led (PL) diabetes self-management support (DSMS) group in achieving and maintaining improvements in A1C, self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG), and diabetes distress in individuals with diabetes. Diabetes self-management support is critical; however, effective, sustainable support models are scarce.

Methods

The study was a cluster randomized controlled trial of 221 people with diabetes from 6 primary care practices. Practices and eligible participants (mean age: 63.0 years, 63.8% female, 96.8% white, 28.5% at or below poverty level, 32.5% using insulin, A1C ≥7%: 54.2%) were randomized to diabetes self-management education (DSME) + PL DSMS (n = 119) or to enhanced usual care (EUC) (DSME + traditional DSMS with no PL; n = 102). Data were collected at baseline, after DSME (6 weeks), after DSMS (6 months), and after telephonic DSMS (12 months).

Results

Decreases in A1C occurred between baseline and post-DSME in both groups. Both groups sustained improvements during DSMS, but A1C levels increased during telephonic DSMS. Improvements in self-monitoring of blood glucose were observed in both groups following DSME and were sustained throughout. At study end, the intervention group was 4.3 times less likely to have diabetes regimen–related distress compared to EUC.

Conclusions

PL DSMS is as effective as traditional DSMS in helping participants to maintain glycemic control and self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG) and more effective at improving distress. With increasing diabetes prevalence and shortage of diabetes educators, it is important to integrate and use low-cost interventions in high-risk communities that build on available resources.

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