Impact of a novel community-based lifestyle intervention program on type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular risk in a resource-poor setting in the Dominican Republic

Int Health. 2014 Jun;6(2):118-24. doi: 10.1093/inthealth/iht039. Epub 2014 Feb 3.


Background: The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is increasing at an alarming rate in Latin America and in the Caribbean. We present evidence that a cost-effective and sustainable approach to lifestyle modification in underdeveloped countries can be implemented using community members as healthcare champions.

Methods: Of 222 community members screened in the impoverished community of Villa Juana, Santo Domingo, 69% had prediabetes or diabetes and 79 of these were enrolled. In a 1-day session, trained lifestyle educators from the USA trained ten lay community members to lead groups oriented to lifestyle change. Community leaders met with assigned patient groups monthly for 1 year. Glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c; average plasma glucose concentration), blood pressure, weight and waist circumference were measured at baseline, 6 months and 1 year.

Results: 59 individuals completed follow-up. Patients showed significant improvements after 6 months in systolic blood pressure (p=0.001), diastolic blood pressure (p=0.000002) and HbA1c (p=0.015). HbA1c improved further at 1 year (p=0.005).

Conclusion: Our pilot experience demonstrates the efficacy and feasibility of a novel, low-cost, community-based educational initiative to improve blood glucose control and reduce cardiovascular risk in individuals with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes. Replication of our model in other underserved areas could have a substantial impact on global health.

Keywords: Behavior modification; Cardiovascular disease; Community-based participatory research; Hypertension, Lifestyle; Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Community Health Services / methods*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / prevention & control*
  • Dominican Republic
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Glycated Hemoglobin / analysis
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Patient Compliance
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Poverty Areas
  • Program Evaluation


  • Glycated Hemoglobin A