According to a recent study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, low-income Latino adults with diabetes who participated in a church-based self-management intervention pilot program showed a decrease in high fat food consumption and an increase participation in exercise. A team of researchers from University of Chicago’s Department of Medicine was responsible for conducting the intervention program.
The Picture Good Health program included 100 adults with diabetes from a Midwestern, urban, low-income Mexican-American neighborhood. The results of the study demonstrate the effectiveness of partnering with faith-based organizations to deliver diabetes education in the Latino community.
“People were very pleased with the fact that the program was at the church, the fact that the class leader was someone from the community and it was held in a comfortable, familiar place,” said in a recent news release Arshiya Baig, MD, MPH, assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Chicago and lead author of the study.
During each session of the intervention, participants discussed their personal experiences with diabetes and community members trained by research staff led the discussion, which usually began with participants sharing personal photos that illustrated how diabetes affected their lives, and what they were doing to cope with the challenges.
At 3 months follow-up, study participants decreased their glycosylated hemoglobin levels (A1C).
From baseline to 3-month and 6-month follow-up. The results revealed no differences in change in A1C, LDL, blood pressure and weight between the intervention and enhanced usual care groups, and intervention participants reported fewer days of consuming high fat foods in the previous week and more days of exercising in comparison with enhanced usual care group.
As the researchers suggested, future church-based interventions may need to strengthen linkages to the healthcare system and provide continued support to participants to impact clinical outcomes.
“People were sharing very intimate details about their families, their lives and their struggles with people they would normally consider strangers. But somehow they felt very comfortable and supported by people who spoke their language, who were of their faith, had a similar diagnosis and who came from a similar upbringing,” she said. “It normalizes the experience. So if a person is distressed about the cost of medication or the impact on their family and diet, they can speak about it in a comfortable environment. Then when someone else says, ‘I have that same issue,’ somehow you feel okay too.”