The Diabetes Among Latinos Best Practices Trial, or DIALBEST, was a randomized community-based trial that sought to understand the needs of Latinos with Type 2 diabetes and how best to treat this population. It is already known in the medical community that Latino Americans differ from other groups in areas like socioeconomic status, insurance coverage and health care service use - and for this reason, researchers looked into how best to help Latinos with Type 2 diabetes improve their glycemic control.
The study involved Latino adults who have Type 2 diabetes and receive care from a community-based primary care clinic. All 211 participants received the standard of care for Type 2 diabetes. One randomly assigned group also got a year of community health worker intervention, including diabetes education and counseling.
The study found community health worker intervention may improve glycemic control, with follow-up results at the 12- and 18-month marks especially promising in this regard. The difference between HbA1C levels, which measure how well blood sugar is controlled, in those who received standard of care treatment and those who had additional intervention was statistically significant. However, it's worth noting that blood lipid levels, high blood pressure and body weight were not significantly different between the two groups.
In total, the researchers concluded the DIALBEST program is an effective intervention for helping Latinos with Type 2 diabetes manage their blood sugar more effectively.
Community health workers and diabetes
The DIALBEST study is one of several that have been performed on the impact of community health workers on glycemic control and other health markers in patients with diabetes. Education on the disease itself as well as meaningful lifestyle changes and how to use diabetes medications effectively is helpful for many people. This may be true particularly for those who have recently been diagnosed or whose current blood sugar control is poor.
Community health workers are well positioned to help people manage their diabetes for many reasons, according to the American Association of Diabetes Educators. These reasons include the ability to translate between medical and common terms, and the fact that community health workers communicate with patients in their own languages. Because they are from the same community as the people they serve, community health workers also have the cultural competence necessary to interface with them.
Investigating the possibility of working with a community health worker may be ideal for you if you are currently having difficulty with your own diabetes care.