Project Dulce: Made for Your Community

Diabetes education program improves blood sugar and cholesterol in Mexican Americans

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Mexican Americans are more likely than whites to develop type 2 diabetes. Once they have diabetes, Mexican Americans also face a greater risk for certain complications. How can this gap be closed?

A culturally sensitive diabetes education program that teaches patients how to manage their disease is a low-cost, effective way to improve control over diabetic risk factors like blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol.

"Learn how to manage your diabetes."

In the search to find ways to reduce people's risk of complications of diabetes, researchers from San Diego studied the diabetes education program called Project Dulce. Lead author Athena Philis-Tsimikas, M.D., from Scripps Whittier Diabetes Institute, and colleagues set out to see if Project Dulce could help Mexican American diabetes patients take control of their disease.

Project Dulce is a diabetes education program designed to address the specific needs of different cultures. The core of the program's approach is known as the "chronic care model," in which a group of experts team up with a patient's primary doctor to give that patient the tools needed to manage diabetes. Patients are taught self-management skills as well as how to support their peers. Project Dulce also focuses on the particular socio-cultural needs of different communities - such as African American, Filipino, and Vietnamese communities - in order to design a specific education plan for each community.

In their study, Dr. Philis-Tsimikas and colleagues show that Project Dulce helps Mexican Americans with diabetes get their disease under control. Patients who participated in Project Dulce had larger decreases in HbA1c levels (a measure of sugar in your blood over three months) and blood pressure, compared to those who had traditional diabetes treatment.

After four months, Project Dulce patients showed improvements in blood sugar levels. They also showed improved levels of HDL cholesterol, or "good" cholesterol. At ten months, the same improvements were present, along with decreased levels of LDL cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol) and total cholesterol.

According to the study's authors, these results show that the methods used by Project Dulce (culturally sensitive, peer-led education) can improve blood sugar levels and metabolic control (control of factors like blood pressure and cholesterol). These methods could protect high-risk diabetic populations from potentially deadly complications.

The full results of this randomized trial are published in the journal Diabetes Care

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
September 19, 2011
Last Updated:
September 20, 2011