This partnership is supported, in part, by a grant from the Virginia Commonwealth University Council for Community Engagement and the American Diabetes Association (1-16-ICTS-082).

The US is in the midst of an epidemic of type 2 diabetes. Approximately one in four adults aged 65+ has diabetes currently, a proportion that is projected to increase. Diabetes is a condition that requires daily self-management (i.e., dietary changes, increasing physical activity, monitoring glucose) to reduce the risk of complications. However, engaging in diabetes self-management is not cost-free – both in terms of financial costs (e.g., testing strips, co-payments, foods), and in terms of emotional costs. Diabetes-related distress and depression are common among persons with diabetes, and these psychosocial factors can impact a overall health. Moreover, many people with diabetes lack resources to manage diabetes effectively – whether those resources are access to a gym, information about nutrition, or social support around these efforts.

This is where programs like the YMCA of Greater Richmond Diabetes Control Program step in. This 12-week, group-format program is led by lay health coaches, and participants receive tangible resources in terms of physical activity (e.g., access to a personal trainer and access to the YMCA gyms), nutrition (e.g., cooking demonstrations and grocery store shopping tours), and social support (e.g., fellow peers).  However, community-led programs like the Diabetes Control Program often lack the technical expertise to evaluate the impact of their health programming. This is where academic-community partnerships can bear fruit – through collaboration, we are working to identify the best practices for implementing a lay-coach led diabetes self-management program in a community setting. This work is supported by a Community Advisory Board which consists of a inter-professional group of stakeholders, including clinicians, community members, and persons with diabetes.

Presenting at our partnership at the American Diabetes Association.

GREMAP members with ADA poster

Publications related to this project

Successfully managing diabetes in a community setting: Evidence from the YMCA of Greater Richmond Diabetes Control Program. Diabetes Educator 2018;44(4): 383-394.

News coverage related to this project

WCVE news story, August 2018.