Aim: To evaluate the effectiveness of group education, led by health promoters using a guiding style, for people with type 2 diabetes in public sector community health centres in Cape Town.
Methods: This was a pragmatic clustered randomized controlled trial with 17 randomly selected intervention and 17 control sites. A total of 860 patients with type 2 diabetes, regardless of therapy used, were recruited from the control sites and 710 were recruited from the intervention sites. The control sites offered usual care, while the intervention sites offered a total of four monthly sessions of group diabetes education led by a health promoter. Participants were measured at baseline and 12 months later. Primary outcomes were diabetes self-care activities, 5% weight loss and a 1% reduction in HbA(1c) levels. Secondary outcomes were self-efficacy, locus of control, mean blood pressure, mean weight loss, mean waist circumference, mean HbA1c and mean total cholesterol levels and quality of life.
Results: A total of 422 (59.4%) participants in the intervention group did not attend any education sessions. No significant improvement was found in any of the primary or secondary outcomes, apart from a significant reduction in mean systolic (-4.65 mmHg, 95% CI 9.18 to -0.12; P = 0.04) and diastolic blood pressure (-3.30 mmHg, 95% CI -5.35 to -1.26; P = 0.002). Process evaluation suggested that there were problems with finding suitable space for group education in these under-resourced settings, with patient attendance and with full adoption of a guiding style by the health promoters.
Conclusion: The reported effectiveness of group diabetes education offered by more highly trained professionals, in well-resourced settings, was not replicated in the present study, although the reduction in participants' mean blood pressure is likely to be of clinical significance.
© 2014 The Authors. Diabetic Medicine published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Diabetes UK.