The long-term growth and sustained high prevalence of obesity in the US is likely to increase the burden of Type 2 diabetes. Hispanic individuals are particularly burdened by a larger share of diabetes than non-Hispanic White individuals. Given the existing health disparities facing this population, we aimed to examine the effectiveness and potential cost savings of the Diabetes Education Program (DEP) offered as part of Healthy South Texas, a state-legislated initiative to reduce health disparities in 27 counties in South Texas with a high proportion of Hispanic adults.
DEP is an 8-h interactive workshop taught in English and Spanish. After the workshop, participants receive quarterly biometric screenings and continuing education with a health educator for one year. Data were analyzed from 3859 DEP participants with Type 2 diabetes living in South Texas at five time points (baseline, 3-months, 6-months, 9-months, 12-months). The primary outcome variable of interest for study analyses was A1c. A series of independent sample t-tests and linear mixed-model regression analyses were used to identify changes over time. Two methods were then applied to estimate healthcare costs savings associated with A1c reductions among participants.
The majority of participants were ages 45–64 years (58%), female (60%), Hispanic (66%), and had a high school education or less (75%). At baseline, the average hemoglobin A1c was 8.57%. The most substantial reductions in hemoglobin A1c were identified from baseline to 3-month follow-up (
P< 0.001); however, the reduction in A1c remained significant from baseline to 12-month follow-up (P < 0.001). The healthcare cost savings associated with improved A1c for the program was estimated to be between $5.3 to $5.6 million over a two to three year period. Conclusion
Findings support the effectiveness of DEP with ongoing follow-up for sustained diabetes risk management. While such interventions foster clinical-community collaboration and can improve patient adherence to recommended lifestyle behaviors, opportunities exist to complement DEP with other resources and services to enhance program benefits. Policy makers and other key stakeholders can assess the lessons learned in this effort to tailor and expand similar initiatives to potentially at-risk populations.
This community-based intervention is not considered a trial by ICMJE definitions, and has not be registered as such.