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Peer Leader Support for Diabetes Management Involving Tai Chi

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October 19, 2015 -
Researchers from Anhui Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention of China, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand, worked together to evaluate a peer leader-support program (PLSP) for diabetes self-management in China in terms of acceptability and feasibility; implementation; perceived advantages; disadvantages and barriers; reach and recruitment; effectiveness in terms of diabetes knowledge and clinical impacts; adoption; and sustainability.

Within each of the 3 cities in Anhui Province, 2 sub communities were randomly assigned to usual care or PLSP. Peer leaders and staff of Community Health Service Centers (CHSCs) co-led biweekly educational meetings. Peer leaders also led biweekly discussion meetings, promoted regular care through the CHSCs, organized informal health promotion activities including walking and Tai Chi, and provided informal individual support to participants through casual contact.

Qualitative evaluations indicated acceptance of and positive responses to the program among patients, peer leaders, and CHSC staff. Implementation was successful in 2 of 3 sub communities, the third failing for lack of staff resources. Reported advantages included peer support as a bridge between CHSCs and their patients. In 2 sites where the PLSP was implemented, analyses controlling for baseline differences and site showed significant benefits for PLSP relative to controls for knowledge, self-efficacy, BMI, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and both fasting and 2-hour post-prandial blood glucose. The Anhui Provincial Health Bureau has extended the PLSP model to other communities and to cardiovascular disease prevention and management.

The PLSP was well accepted, feasible given sufficient administrative and staff resources, effective for those who participated, and generalizable to other sites and health problems.


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