Reducing diabetes inequities requires system and policy changes based on real-life experiences of vulnerable individuals living with the condition. While introducing innovative interventions for African American, Native American, and Latino low-income people, the five community-based sites of the Alliance to Reduce Disparities in Diabetes recognized that policy changes were essential to sustain their efforts. Data regarding change efforts were collected from site leaders and examined against documents provided routinely to the National Program Office at the University of Michigan. A policy expert refined the original lists to include only confirmed policy changes, scope of change (organizational to national), and stage of accomplishment (1, beginning; 2, adoption; 3, implementation; and 4, full maintenance). Changes were again verified through site visits and telephone interviews. In 3 years, Alliance teams achieved 53 system and policy change accomplishments. Efforts were implemented at the organizational (33), citywide (13), state (5), and national (2) levels, and forces helping and hindering success were identified. Three types of changes were deemed especially significant for diabetes control: data sharing across care-providing organizations, embedding community health workers into the clinical care team, and linking clinic services with community assets and resources in support of self-management.
Keywords: diabetes; health disparities; health system interventions; multilevel interventions; policy change.
© 2014 Society for Public Health Education.