Programs and Initiatives in Communities Community Conversations for Diabetes Prevention and Care Action

Programs & Initiatives in Communities
Community Conversations for Diabetes Prevention and Care Action

Health differences are widespread throughout Minnesota. Minority populations have higher rates of diseases like diabetes and heart disease because they typically face more barriers to care.

Community Conversations for Diabetes Prevention and Care Action initially launched in 2013 as part of a National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD) grant. The goal of the grant, which ended in 2014, was to support healthy behavior changes in these underserved communities.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) continued the conversations in 2015 through a grant from Stratis Health, with the goal of building on the relationships, trust and energy to help community members become more engaged in leading their communities in living healthier lives with diabetes.

Spurring action and making connections

When we launched an effort to increase awareness of prediabetes, we knew we needed to listen to and learn from community members.

The original effort focused on five communities: African American, American Indian, Hmong, Latino and Somali. Helping communities to develop the capacity and leadership for making small changes has the potential to improve a population’s overall health and wellbeing. Additionally, the individuals’ willingness to participate reflects trust, respect, hope and determination.

The five conversations took place in May and June 2013. While these conversations did spur diabetes prevention efforts, the fact that they simply opened a conversation between MDH and the communities proved to be of value too.

Conversation models

The African American, American Indian, Hmong and Somali communities that we worked with all followed the World Café model for their work. World Café is a method for creating a living network of shared discussion around “real world” questions. The format is flexible and focuses on information sharing, relationship building, deep reflection, exploration and action planning.

The Latino community followed the Circle Model for their work. This model represents an ancient form of meeting that encourages respectful conversations. The Circle Model is adaptable to a variety of groups, issues and timeframes.

Circle Model encourages rotating leadership, responsibility and the idea of gathering together around a higher purpose.

Action to promote diabetes prevention

We Can Prevent Diabetes Transit PosterFollowing the initial conversations, we developed YouTube videos, bus stop ads and posters in targeted communities and participating clinics. The clinics told us that they needed to put tools in their healthcare provider’s hands that could support a referral to the program, and to remind the physician that they should be looking for potential participants. With our contractor, we created patient referral cards in English, Hmong, Spanish and Somali, personalized to each clinic. We also provided them with a laminated provider reminder card to keep with them.

The conversations also helped us secure federal funding for We Can Prevent Diabetes. In partnership with the Minnesota Department of Human Services, the We Can grant funded a five-year study testing the effects of incentives on participation and success in the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) for people enrolled in Minnesota’s Medicaid program.

A next step: Action to promote diabetes management

When the NACDD grant ended, community participants wanted to do more in their own communities around diabetes management. MDH received a Building Healthier Communities grant from Stratis Health to continue the conversations as a forum for encouraging community action for diabetes control. We hosted two more conversations to explore ways community members could become actively engaged in promoting diabetes and wellness messages in their community.

Members from all five communities joined in these conversations to suggest possible action items that all could use. Four exciting projects rose to the top of the ideas generated by conversation participants. Two emerged immediately: a parks and recreation program to engage overweight youth in physical activity, and healthy diabetes menu plans for the Somali community.

Two other ideas were able to bring in foundation funding: a traditional remedies cookbook that would collect traditional health and healing remedies used by each of the communities, and a YouTube video project to engage young people in creating ways of staying healthy, all under the guidance of elders in the community.

Impact through listening

Through the series of Community Conversations, we supported five underserved communities in launching activities they identified as important to support healthy behavior changes in their communities, which could positively affect diabetes prevention and care.

We believe that helping individuals in underserved communities to develop the capacity and leadership for making small changes to improve wellness in their communities will ultimately reduce health disparities.

For additional information on the community conversations, contact