Introduction: Diabetes-related health improvements achieved from self-management education interventions are not sustained long-term. We examined the health effects at 1 year follow-up of a 2-year, empowerment-based, diabetes self-management support intervention designed for African Americans.
Methods: We collected data from 52 African American adults with type 2 diabetes who completed the 3-year study. The intervention consisted of weekly groups led by 2 health care professionals and emphasized experiential learning, emotional coping, problem solving, goal setting, and action planning; group discussion was guided by participant-identified self-management priorities and concerns. Measurements were taken at baseline, 24 months (postintervention), and 36 months (1 year follow-up) to assess glycemic control; weight; body mass index; serum cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels; systolic and diastolic blood pressure; self-care behaviors; diabetes-specific quality of life; and diabetes empowerment.
Results: Following the 2-year diabetes self-management support intervention, we found significant improvements for following a healthy diet (P = .03), spacing carbohydrates evenly across the day (P = .005), using insulin as recommended (P = .047), and achieving diabetes-specific quality of life (P = .02). At 1-year follow-up, not only did participants sustain the behavioral improvements made in the 2-year diabetes self-management support intervention, but they also demonstrated additional improvements in glycemic control (P < .001) and in serum cholesterol (P < .001) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels (P = .001).
Conclusion: Participation in an empowerment-based diabetes self-management support intervention may have a positive and enduring effect on self-care behaviors and on metabolic and cardiovascular health.