Diabetes Wellness Circles

Between October 2011 and April 2012, twenty Spanish-speaking diabetic women worked with two bilingual facilitators to improve their health and well-being by addressing two social determinants affecting the health of people in this demographic group. The aim of this project, funded by the Kresge Foundation, was to empower and support Spanish-speaking women to more effectively control their diabetes by addressing individual lifestyle factors and linkages to social and community networks.

With assistance from the PCC, diabetic patients from the Spanish Catholic Center (SCC) and service providers who see patients at the McCarrick Center in Wheaton participated in the Diabetes Wellness Circles. These circles used interactive problem-solving processes of “plan, act, observe, and reflect” to help participants work on complicated problems.

The Wellness Circles were framed around the Spanish-language curriculum of the Diabetes Empowerment Education Program  specifically developed for Latinos with low-health literacy by the University of Illinois, Chicago. The PCC project augmented the curriculum with activities to build trust and develop social support among participants.  The project also introduced and tested ways for participants to systematically improve self-management by making small changes in their daily activities.

Over the period of the project, 40 percent of the participating women improved their hemoglobin A1c levels from an average of 10.29 percent to 8.2 percent (lower numbers show improvement). By working together and encouraging each other, they improved their health and wellness.

The pilot project included a comparison group and received IRB approval from the University of Maryland. Two independent pro-bono evaluators conducted the evaluation.