Best-Practice Programs Reduce Diabetes Rate Among Native Americans, Alaskans

Following encouraging results from a demonstration project that involved 36 Indian Health Service (IHS), tribal and urban Indian health programs, the IHS has added “Youth and Type 2 Diabetes Prevention and Treatment” to its list of best practices.

diabetes treatment algorithms.jpgThat program involves a variety of interventions — everything from exercise programs to nutrition counseling to increased medical monitoring — customized for American Indian and Alaska Native cultures.

These best practices are more than mere “window-dressing;” they have been given “teeth” through IHS policy, according to agency officials. (The complete list of 20 best practices can be found below; the other 19 were updated this year.)

“A couple of years ago when we looked at SDPI (Special Diabetes Program for Indians) grant programs, we decided each of the community-directed grant programs was required to do at least one best practice, so we get consistency in over 300 grant programs,” explained Lorraine Valdez, MPA, BSN, RN, Acting Director / Nurse Consultant for the IHS OCPS (Office of Clinical and Preventive Services) Division of Diabetes Treatment and Prevention in Albuquerque.

These best practices, she adds:

  • Are based on findings from the latest scientific research, outcomes studies and successful experiences of diabetes programs.
  • Provide IHS, Tribal and Urban Indian healthcare programs with relevant, evidence-based information on caring for American Indians and Alaska Natives with diabetes or at risk of developing diabetes.
  • Can help diabetes care teams assess what works and what does not work.

Project provides incentive

The decision to add the new best practice follows years of research, not only by the IHS, but by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In fact, it was the results of the NIH-funded Diabetes Prevention Program research study that both inspired and formed the foundation (with its 16-session lifestyle curriculum) for the demonstration project, according to Valdez.

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