From Research to Practice: Challenges to Implementing National Diabetes Guidelines With Five Community Health Centers on the U.S.-Mexico Border1
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From Research to Practice: Challenges to Implementing National Diabetes Guidelines With Five Community Health Centers on the U.S.-Mexico Border1

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  • English

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      Prev Chronic Dis
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      Given the dramatic increase in type 2 diabetes in the United States, the development of effective strategies to prevent and control this potentially devastating illness is more important than ever. In the Southwest, diabetes is a far too common and rapidly growing problem among Mexican Americans living near the U.S.-Mexico border. A project designed to address this problem enabled faculty from the University of Arizona to work with community health centers to evaluate and improve diabetes care in border communities.


      This project was a component of the Border Health Strategic Initiative (Border Health ¡SI!) and Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health 2010 (REACH 2010), both funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. University of Arizona faculty worked in partnership with five community health centers funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration. The goal of the faculty was to assist the community health centers with 1) development of measures of diabetes care based on national clinical practice guidelines, 2) identification of gaps in care based on those measures, and 3) implementation of strategies for closing those gaps.


      All five centers prioritized their top four or five indicators of diabetes care (e.g., annual dilated eye examination). Different community health centers selected different indicators. Baseline medical record audits were performed using the chosen indicators. Individual results were shared confidentially with providers; overall center results were shared and discussed with providers and staff.


      Each clinic chose its own strategies for closing gaps in care. At one-year follow-up, there was evidence of improvement for the majority of indicators in all community health centers. However, some gaps remained. Of the three community health centers having a second-year evaluation, two maintained or increased the improvements made, but one lost ground.


      Our experience with these five border clinics was that translating guidelines into practice is easier said than done. Factors that favored success included an onsite champion, staff buy-in, a willingness to see systems change, and the availability of additional resources, particularly for chart reviews.

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