Barriers and Facilitators to Real-world Implementation of the Diabetes Prevention Program in Large Healthcare Systems: Lifestyle Coach Perspectives

J Gen Intern Med. 2020 Jun;35(6):1684-1692. doi: 10.1007/s11606-020-05744-y. Epub 2020 Apr 6.


Background: Group-based lifestyle change programs based on the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) are associated with clinically significant weight loss and decreases in cardiometabolic risk factors. However, these benefits depend on successful real-world implementation. Studies have examined implementation in community settings, but less is known about integration in healthcare systems, and particularly in large, multi-site systems with the potential for extended reach.

Objective: To examine the barriers and facilitators to successful DPP implementation in a large multi-site healthcare system.

Design: Semi-structured interviews, based on the RE-AIM framework, were conducted in person for 30-90 min each.

Participants: Past and present DPP lifestyle coaches in the healthcare system identified using purposive sampling.

Approach: Thematic analysis of qualitative data to identify key factors influencing the success of DPP implementation. An iterative consensus process was used to model the relationships among factors.

Key results: We conducted 33 interviews across 20 clinic sites serving 12 counties. Participants described six key factors as potential barriers or facilitators to implementation, including (1) Broader Context, including the surrounding physical and sociodemographic context; (2) Institutional Context, including finances, infrastructure, and personnel; (3) Program Provision, including curriculum, administration, cost, goals, and visibility; (4) Recruitment Process, including screening and referrals; (5) Lifestyle Coaches, including their characteristics, behaviors, and morale; and (6) Cohort, including group attrition/retention and interpersonal dynamics. These factors were both highly interconnected in their impact on implementation and widely variable across sites within the healthcare system, as illustrated in our multi-level conceptual framework.

Conclusions: This study identified key factors that could serve as barriers or facilitators in the implementation of DPP in large healthcare systems, from the perspective of lifestyle coaches. With further examination, the conceptual model presented here may be used for planning and managing the implementation of group-based behavioral interventions in these settings.

Keywords: Diabetes Prevention Program; implementation; real-world; semi-structured interviews.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2*
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Research Design
  • Weight Loss