Reducing the burden of diabetes

Brownson's NIH grant to help community health departments 'shift the paradigm' on diabetes research

Ross Brownson, the Bernard Becker Professor at Washington University in St. Louis and director of the Prevention Research Center, has received a $2.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to find ways of reducing the burden of diabetes by increasing adoption of proven programs and policies among local health practitioners.

“Nearly 26 million people in the U.S. — or 8.3 percent of the population — have diabetes,” Brownson said. “Premature death and disability can be prevented for persons with diabetes through implementation of programs and policies that are known to decrease risk.”

Ross Brownson
Brownson

Local health departments are uniquely positioned to implement diabetes control programs because of their knowledge of, and focus on, community-level needs, contexts and resources, Brownson said.

There is a significant gap, however, between known diabetes control strategies and actual diabetes control activities conducted by local health departments.

“The proposed study is relevant to public health because it addresses diabetes and its risk factors, which have high burden and disparities in the United States,” Brownson said.

“Intervention knowledge on evidence-based programs and policies for diabetes control is substantial, yet not commonly applied in local health departments, where a large reduction in burden is feasible if these policies and programs are more widely adopted,” he said. “A project on this scale has the potential to shift the paradigm on how research can be more effectively disseminated across the U.S. to those in an ideal position to use the evidence.”

The two-phase study will be the first to identify effective approaches for increasing the adoption of diabetes control programs among at the local level in the U.S., and be the first to develop valid and reliable objective measures of adoption for evidence-based programs and policies in local health departments.

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