Rural Diabetes Impact Calls for Variety of Outreach Solutions

Authors review roles of telemedicine, phone interventions, lay community health advisors
By Eric Metcalf
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 10 (HealthDay News) -- The burden of diabetes in rural communities points to a need for strategies to improve diabetes care in these areas, according to an article published in the Jan. 1 issue of Clinical Diabetes.

Cynthia N. Massey, of the Birmingham Heart Clinic in Alabama, and colleagues write that rural areas have a roughly 17-percent higher prevalence rate of diabetes than urban areas. Issues affecting diabetes control in rural areas include poverty, scarce diabetes education resources, and obesity.

The authors discuss several strategies that could be useful in improving diabetes management in rural areas. Studies on telemedicine have been associated with better self-management behaviors and reduced blood glucose. Web- and cell phone-based interventions also hold potential. Telephone help lines have been linked to improved outcomes such as lower A1C levels, and lay community health advisors (CHAs) may help improve patients' knowledge and behaviors. Each approach, however, faces limitations, the authors note.

"Rural communities provide extremely challenging arenas for the translation of research into practice. Modalities such as telemedicine, Web-based interventions, help lines, and CHAs are promising. We must renew our efforts and continue to investigate the feasibility, applicability, and impact of each strategy and perhaps combinations of strategies in efforts to create synergy, overcome weaknesses, and enhance diabetes self-management in rural areas," Massey and colleagues conclude.

A co-author was supported by a grant from a collaborative program that included Eli Lilly.

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