Diabetes: A Family Matter

The Toolkit: Introduction


In the Appalachian region, a variety of factors have lead to health disparities for many in the region. While it is common to consider these inequalities for minority groups, far less thought has been given to the place-based disparities found among many Caucasians or whites that inhabit areas of Appalachia. In many parts of the region poor health practices, limited access to health care services, and lack of preventative care have resulted in a population with higher than national average rates for coronary artery disease, hypertension, diabetes, chronic lung disease, and obesity. Some areas have a shortage of health professionals and residents face limited access to providers. Tobacco use, high obesity rates, limited diet choices, and physical inactivity contribute to health risks. Additionally, area with high unemployment rates and income inequalities, have consistently higher mortality rates for heart disease and stroke than the national average.

"In the Appalachian region, a variety of factors have lead to health disparities for many in the region."

Many excellent resources already exist for diabetes prevention and diabetes self-management. At Diabetes: A Family Matter, you can find some easily accessible links to excellent education materials. The information developed by the government (e.g., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Diabetes Education Program) and other organizations (e.g., American Diabetes Association) provide you evidence-based information about best practices related to diabetes, prevention, and management. However, few existing diabetes materials are available specifically for family and community use. While anyone may use the Diabetes: A Family Matter Toolkit, it has been especially crafted for those living in the Appalachian region.

This toolkit moves away from using an exclusive medical model and traditional forms of diabetes education. Instead, the Family Health Model (Denham, 2003) was used to develop the toolkit and design materials where diabetes and diabetes prevention and care needs are viewed from family perspectives. Rather than merely focus on the person with diabetes, the toolkit suggests ways to think about relationships among diabetes, health, persons with diabetes, their family members, and communities. When it comes to diabetes care, educators generally believe that family and community are important, but education programs and teaching materials seldom focus on these systems. This toolkit addresses some gaps visible in the materials currently available. For example, people living in rural areas may have some different ideas and concerns than those living in more urban areas. Thus, the photos and text of the materials is targeted for those who are more likely to be living in or linked to these areas of Appalachia.