Expanding Reach and Equitable Access to Diabetes Prevention and Control Programs Through Distance Learning and Innovations in Program Marketing

Abstract

Conference Area of Focus: Health Equity Objectives of the Presentation:

  1. Outline the key components of an effective distance learning platform for behavior change programs.
  2. Describe the application of these components to distance learning platforms developed for two diabetes lifestyle management programs conducted by Virginia Cooperative Extension.
  3. Detail the impact of online program marketing strategies on program access and reach, and lessons learned from process and outcome data collected during five programs conducted using the distance learning platforms Diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in the United States, and is associated with well-documented adverse health outcomes. Recently, diabetes has emerged as a significant risk factor for severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). People with COVID-19 and diabetes are more likely to be admitted to the ICU, require mechanical ventilation, and succumb to the disease. Virginia Cooperative Extension is meeting the need for diabetes prevention and control education through two evidence-based lifestyle-change programs, The Diabetes Prevention Program, and the Balanced Living with Diabetes Program. The social distancing restrictions implemented to control the spread of SARS-CoV-2, halted these in-person programs at a time when prevention and control of diabetes was even more important. It created the opportunity, however, for capacity building in distance learning programs that could remove barriers to program participation and expand program reach more equitably. A team of VCE Extension faculty mobilized to create online platforms and marketing materials, and provide training to allow Extension agents to conduct these programs through distance learning. We developed an all-in-one participant program platform for both programs that serves the needs of both the participants and Extension Educators. For the year-long VCE DPP we developed a robust platform using Canvas and Zoom. For the six- session BLD program we developed an easily accessible Google site platform linked with Zoom. We also created systems for program marketing through social media to target at risk population groups. Five programs (3 DPP and 2 BLD) were conducted in 2020, and 49 individuals with prediabetes or diabetes from five VCE service communities are improving their health through these programs. The objectives of this presentation are threefold, 1) Outline the key components of an effective distance learning platform, 2) Describe the application of these components to distance learning platforms developed for two diabetes programs, and 3) Detail the social media marketing strategies and their impact on reach to at risk populations
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