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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UNC: Collaboration with Shanghai Highlights Promising Approaches to Global Diabetes Challenge

Researchers from the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health and Peers for Progress have collaborated with colleagues in Shanghai on a paper showing the contributions of peer support to diabetes management, published in Translational Behavioral Medicine. This paper is part of a special section of the journal devoted to prevention and management of diabetes in varied international settings – China, India, South Africa, Sweden and Uganda.

If the 463 million people across the globe with diabetes were a country, they would constitute the third-largest in the world. This represents dramatic increases in the percentages of people with diabetes and reflects parallel increases in obesity around the world. The continued growth of diabetes is most dramatic in low- and middle-income countries, but threatens to overwhelm even upper-income countries’ capacity to provide health care to citizens.

The “Shanghai Integration Model” brings together specialty/hospital with primary/community-based care for people with diabetes. Implemented through community health centers, peer supporters encouraged those with diabetes to adopt good health habits, which included prescription medication compliance, healthy diet, physical exercise, seeking community support for emotional well-being, and routine primary and specialty care. Benefits included improved blood sugar control, especially among those with initially high blood sugar levels.

Dr. Edwin Fisher, professor of health behavior at the Gillings School and global director of Peers for Progress, noted that “the results add to those of many other studies, showing that peer support has a real, constructive role to play in helping people with diabetes and other chronic health problems.”

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