Engaging Underserved Community Members in Diabetes Self-Management: Evidence From the YMCA of Greater Richmond Diabetes Control Program

Diabetes Educ. 2020 Apr;46(2):169-180. doi: 10.1177/0145721720907059. Epub 2020 Mar 4.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to identify factors influencing participant engagement in a community-based diabetes self-management program (DSMP), with a focus on the needs of underserved groups (eg, racial/ethnic minorities, low income).

Methods: Focus groups were conducted with participants (n = 22) from the YMCA of Greater Richmond's Diabetes Control Program, who were recruited using a purposeful sampling frame to capture a range of experiences. In-depth interviews were conducted with lay health coaches (n = 3). The RADaR qualitative analysis technique was used to identify themes related to factors across the continuum of engagement.

Results: Fear affected program enrollment and retention in complex ways. Peers and coaches were important for social support and accountability. The length of the program (12 weeks), accessible information, practical skill building, and emphasis on making small, feasible improvements in pursuit of larger goals were identified as critical for engagement and improving diabetes self-management. Health and outside obligations were the major barriers to program attendance.

Conclusions: Participant and coach perspectives provide important insight into existing strengths of community-based DSMPs that can be expanded on to promote engagement as well as potential opportunities for improvement. Actionable recommendations for increasing engagement of underserved groups in community-based DSMPs are provided.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Community Health Services
  • Diabetes Mellitus / psychology*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Personnel / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mentoring
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Patient Participation / psychology*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Self-Management / psychology*
  • Virginia
  • Vulnerable Populations / psychology*