Implementation of a group-based diabetes prevention program within a healthcare delivery system

BMC Health Serv Res. 2019 Oct 15;19(1):694. doi: 10.1186/s12913-019-4569-0.


Background: Group-based Diabetes Prevention Programs (DPP), aligned with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, promote clinically significant weight loss and reduce cardio-metabolic risks. Studies have examined implementation of the DPP in community settings, but less is known about its integration in healthcare systems. In 2010, a group-based DPP known as the Group Lifestyle Balance (GLB) was implemented within a large healthcare delivery system in Northern California, across three geographically distinct regional administration divisions of the organization within 12 state counties, with varying underlying socio-demographics. The regional divisions implemented the program independently, allowing for natural variation in its real-world integration. We leveraged this natural experiment to qualitatively assess the implementation of a DPP in this healthcare system and, especially, its fidelity to the original GLB curriculum and potential heterogeneity in implementation across clinics and regional divisions.

Methods: Using purposive sampling, we conducted semi-structured interviews with DPP lifestyle coaches. Data were analyzed using mixed-method techniques, guided by an implementation outcomes framework consisting of eight constructs: acceptability, adoption, appropriateness, cost, feasibility, fidelity, penetration, and sustainability.

Results: We conducted 33 interviews at 20 clinics across the three regional administrative divisions. Consistencies in implementation of the program were found across regions in terms of satisfaction with the evidence base (acceptability), referral methods (adoption), eligibility criteria (fidelity), and strategies to increase retention and effectiveness (sustainability). Heterogeneity in implementation across regions were found in all categories, including: the number and frequency of sessions (fidelity); program branding (adoption); lifestyle coach training (adoption), and patient-facing cost (cost). Lifestyle coaches expressed differing attitudes about curriculum content (acceptability) and suitability of educational level (appropriateness). While difficulties with recruitment were common across regions (feasibility), strategies used to address these challenges differed (sustainability).

Conclusions: Variation exists in the implementation of the DPP within a large multi-site healthcare system, revealing a dynamic and important tension between retaining fidelity to the original program and tailoring the program to meet the local needs. Moreover, certain challenges across sites may represent opportunities for considering alternative implementation to anticipate these barriers. Further research is needed to explore how differences in implementation domains impact program effectiveness.

Keywords: Diabetes mellitus; program evaluation; Diabetes prevention program; Health promotion; Healthcare system; Qualitative evaluation.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • California
  • Counseling
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Health Education / methods
  • Health Personnel
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Healthy Lifestyle
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods
  • Program Evaluation / methods
  • Research Design
  • Weight Loss