Sociology Faculty Publications and Presentations

The role of community health workers in combating type 2 diabetes in the rio grande valley

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The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of the use of community health workers (CHWs, aka promotoras de salud in Spanish) in the control of type 2 diabetes (diabetes mellitus) in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV). Known from the literature as "a disease of the 21st century" and being the third leading cause of death in the United States, type 2 diabetes is a very common disease in the RGV because of its predominantly Mexican American population, a group genetically vulnerable to the disease. Unlike prior studies that examined the overall effectiveness of the CHW model, the authors used registered CHWs as primary diabetes educators. Another innovation of this study was the authors monitored a wide range of biologic (HbA1c and body mass index [BMI]) and behavioral (diabetes knowledge, self-efficacy, self-management activities scores) outcomes. The research hypothesis was that the educational service provided by CHWs to the diabetic patients would assist them in controlling their disease. The design of the study was experimental. The target population consisted of Mexican American adults from RGV diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and willing to participate. The intervention group received monthly visits from CHWs. The results showed a significant improvement after one year of intervention in all outcomes, except BMI, in the experimental group.


© The Author(s) 2011

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Journal of Primary Care & Community Health