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UTHSC Study to Help African Americans with Uncontrolled Diabetes Better Manage Their Health

Stanley Dowell, MD, who directs the MODEL providers group, talks with a patient about the benefits of motivational text messages in diabetes self-management. (Photos by Thurman Hobson/UTHSC)

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) is heading a coalition of primary care providers in the Mid-South in a program to help African-American adults diagnosed with diabetes better manage their disease.

Drs. James Bailey, right, and Stanley Dowell are leading area physicians in the MODEL program.

Led by James Bailey, MD, MPH, professor of Internal Medicine and Preventive Medicine and director of the Center for Health System Improvement at UTHSC, the MODEL (Management of Diabetes in Everyday Life) program is recruiting African-American men and women over age 18, who have diabetes with high blood sugar levels.

Participants will be part of a research study to compare three approaches that primary care clinics can use to encourage better self-management of diabetes. The study will compare the benefits of health coaching, motivational text messages, or diabetes education material in helping people with diabetes take better care of themselves.

All of these approaches can be adapted to a primary care setting, and would support and enhance clinical care for patients with diabetes, Dr. Bailey said. James Robinson, PsyD, CEO of Methodist South Hospital and co-principal investigator on the project, said this practical research will help show health systems across the country how they can improve care and decrease costs by empowering patients to take better care of their diabetes in partnership with their primary care doctor.

ShaNicka Young, MODEL program diabetes health coach, counsels a patient.

Stanley Dowell, MD, who leads the MODEL Provider Learning Collaborative, said patients in Memphis with uncontrolled diabetes will have a unique opportunity to benefit from some of the latest and most-proven approaches to controlling, or even curing, their diabetes through healthier habits. The study will last one year, and participants must have a cell phone with text messaging capability. They will receive up to $150 for follow-up visits.

Participating clinics are Christ Community Health Services, Raleigh; Christ Community Health Services, Third Street; Tristate Medical Group; UT Methodist Physicians – Primary Care; Hawkins Family Medicine, Holly Springs, Mississippi; UT Family Practice, Jackson, Tennessee; UT Family Practice, Tipton, Tennessee; and Methodist Medical Group Primary Care, 1325 Eastmoreland, Suite 245, and 1264 Wesley Drive, Suite 606.

In 2016, Dr. Bailey received a $5.2 million funding award from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). The funds, to be distributed over four years and four months, will be used for this study and others to determine the effectiveness of patient-driven resources to improve health care for African Americans who live in underserved areas and have uncontrolled diabetes.

For more information about the MODEL study, call (901) 448-1381.