Effective treatment for people with type 2 diabetes includes regular visits to the doctor and self-management skills such as blood glucose monitoring, healthy eating, and physical activity. About 10% of U.S. Latinos have diabetes. However, factors such as depression, lack of knowledge, and not speaking English create challenges for many Latinos in managing their disease. At one health center in Worcester, Massachusetts, half the center’s Latino population with diabetes does not seek routine care or practice diabetes self management (DSM).
The Latinos en Control program focuses on basic DSM knowledge, attitudes, and skills, and on linkage to care for Latinos with type 2 diabetes. The program is being pilot-tested among patients of a health center who have not sought care in the previous 6 months.
Latinos en Control will use community health workers (CHWs), or community members trained by the researchers, to educate other residents about their health. The CHWs will help participants make appointments with their physicians and get medications needed to control their diabetes.
In 12 weekly group sessions taught by the CHWs, participants will learn about DSM. Attitudes toward DSM will be addressed through a video soap opera showing Latino actors making healthy choices and overcoming concerns about going to the doctor. Participants will take part in cooking demonstrations, grocery store tours, and food tastings to learn about nutritious foods. Other activities will teach skills on how to properly take medications and monitor blood pressure. Participants will also receive a one-on-one counseling session with a CHW each week to discuss their goals and solve problems.
Participants’ changes in weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, DSM behaviors, and quality of life will be compared with those of a similar group of Latinos who do not participate in the program. After the intervention, the CHWs will contact participants biweekly for three months to aid with additional appointments or health needs.