Supporting diabetes self-care in underserved populations: a randomized pilot study using medical assistant coaches

Diabetes Educ. 2010 Jan-Feb;36(1):127-31. doi: 10.1177/0145721709355487.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of an innovative intervention that utilized a certified medical assistant with specific diabetes training to work with a multidisciplinary diabetes care team to help provide basic diabetes education and self-care support in low-income minority populations with type 2 diabetes.

Methods: Enrolled participants were randomized to either the medical assistant coaching (MAC) group (N = 25) or the treatment as usual (TAU) group (N = 25). Deidentified data was obtained on a matched no contact control (NCC) group (N = 50).

Results: Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) comparisons revealed no significant differences between the 3 groups on A1C, but a trend was observed. A1Cs decreased across time for the MAC group, while increasing for the TAU and NCC groups. ANCOVA comparisons also indicated that the MAC group experienced significantly greater increases in perceived empowerment and a larger, although nonsignificant, reduction in perceived diabetes related problems than the TAU group.

Conclusions: This randomized controlled pilot study suggests that the inclusion of a medical assistant self-care coach as part of the diabetes care team holds promise in improving outcomes and should be further examined in a large-scale study.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / psychology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / rehabilitation*
  • Female
  • Glycated Hemoglobin / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Minority Groups
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Perception
  • Physician Assistants
  • Pilot Projects
  • Poverty
  • Power, Psychological
  • Self Care*
  • Social Support


  • Glycated Hemoglobin A