Condition management programs, such as Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support (DSMES), can be highly effective when utilized. However, fewer than 7% of privately insured and 5% of Medicare beneficiaries with a new diagnosis of type 2 diabetes currently engage. Recognizing that Black Americans are 60% more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than White Americans and bear a disproportionate burden of the risk for complications, novel and culturally tailored approaches are needed to engage them in DSMES.

ProChange Behavior Solutions was recently awarded a 28-month $1.45 million contract by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to develop, implement, and evaluate innovative strategies and sustainable tools that can reduce inequities in and increase overall utilization of DSMES. They will collaborate closely with their partners at the Health Advocates in Reach and Research (HAIR) Network, a program within University of Maryland (UMD) School of Public Health Center for Health Equity and Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists (ADCES). The objective of the contract is to systematically integrate evidence-based, theoretically grounded, technology-enabled interventions for DSMES and activate Black barbers and stylists as agents of change who, through their trusted relationship with their clients, can implement CDC’s New Beginnings discussions and act as Diabetes Community Care Coordinators via ongoing, empathic conversations. 

The multi-level initiative, Communities United Together to Manage Diabetes (CUT2 MD), is dedicated to revolutionizing diabetes self-management for Black Americans. By bridging the gap between evidence-based diabetes management programs and the communities that need them most, CUT2MD aims to empower individuals and reduce the prevalence of preventable diabetes-related complications.

– Dr. Sara S. Johnson, Principal Investigator/Co-President & CEO

CUT2MD involves an interactive text messaging solution to support behavior change. It includes a personalized clinical dashboard that provides customized actionable insights to facilitate conversations between community members in Black barbershops and hair salons and a community-based Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist (CDCES). The program also provides zip code-matched referrals to local DSMES and to in-shop/salon or virtual New Beginnings groups. Sara S. Johnson, PhD, Co-President and CEO of ProChange, and Stephen B. Thomas, PhD, Director of the University of Maryland Center for Health Equity, will spearhead a 9-month demonstration project.

Continuing to mobilize barbers and stylists as healthcare extenders, linking people with diabetes to DSMES, and equipping CDCES with tools to customize their interactions with each person living with diabetes may also play a pivotal role in value-based payment models–creating a new, credible community outreach channel for condition management programs with wider and far more regular reach than traditional healthcare providers.

Read more here about how ProChange has embedded the principles of behavior change science into other condition management programs to improve the lives of people living with other diseases.

This project is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) (Contract # 75D30123C18153). The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, CDC/HHS or the U.S. Government.