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African American, diabetes, symptoms



  1. Skelly, Anne H.
  2. Carlson, John
  3. Leeman, Jennifer
  4. Soward, April
  5. Burns, Dorothy


Background: Type 2 diabetes affects one in five African American women older than 60 years. These women face distinct challenges in managing diabetes self-care. Therefore, tailored self-care interventions for this population need to be developed and tested.


Objectives: The effectiveness of a tailored, four-visit, in-home symptom-focused diabetes intervention with and without booster telephone calls was compared with an attentional control focused on skills training for weight management and diet.


Methods: African American women (n = 180; >55 years old, Type 2 diabetes mellitus >1 year, HbA1c >7%) were randomly assigned to the intervention or attentional control condition. Half the intervention participants were assigned to also receive a telephone-delivered booster intervention. Participants were evaluated at baseline and 3, 6, and 9 months.


Results: Baseline HbA1 was 8.3 in the intervention group (n = 60), 8.29 in the intervention with booster group (n = 55), and 8.44 in the attentional control condition (n = 59). HbA1c declined significantly in the whole sample (0.57%) with no differences between study arms. Participants in the booster arm decreased HbA1c by 0.76%. Symptom distress, perceived quality of life, impact of diabetes, and self-care activities also improved significantly for the whole sample with no significant differences between study arms.


Discussion: Parsimonious interventions of four in-person visits yielded clinically significant decreases in HbA1c. Although the weight and diet program was intended as an attentional control, the positive effects suggest it met a need in this population. Because the contents of both the intervention and the attentional control were effective despite different approaches, a revised symptom-focused intervention that incorporates weight and diet skills training may offer even better results.