Rural diabetes programs have identified several characteristics that contribute to their success.
Use a team approach – Having buy-in from healthcare providers and other members of
clinical team is crucial, especially for diabetes programs involving changes to the clinical system or new
self-management practices. Using a team approach can help build support for change.
Ensure leadership support – Successful programs must have support and commitment from
leadership. Leadership can help increase buy-in across all levels by communicating the program's
purpose and goals and serving as a program champion.
Maintain flexibility – It is important to adapt the program to local circumstances
cultures. Doing so allows the program to have greater reach and impact. This includes adapting program
materials to participant literacy levels and also being flexible when establishing program goals and
Coordinate transportation – Transportation can be a significant barrier in rural
communities. Public transportation in rural communities is limited, and some individuals may not have
reliable personal transportation. Some rural diabetes programs help coordinate transportation to community
events and appointments.
Use a common social center – The setting for the diabetes program, workshop, or class
important. Hosting the program in a common, well-known location can help ease transportation issues and link
program participants with other social programs offered in the community.
Support participant retention – It is important to encourage participants to remain
in the diabetes program. Some best practices for
diabetes program retention are to use low-literacy materials, tailor communication to specific
populations, address barriers to participation, encourage social connection, and use incentives.
Involve community members – Community involvement in rural diabetes programs is
success. Community members can offer a meaningful and familiar connection for program participants. Rural
programs can hire and train community members as community health
workers to support outreach and education. Community members can also help translate program
materials, and support overall community health and wellness.
For more information on features of successful rural community programs, see Characteristics of
Successful Programs in the Rural Community Health Toolkit.
Resources to Learn More
Elements of Successful
Rural Diabetes Management Programs
Examines how local innovations implemented by rural diabetes management programs overcame key challenges of the
rural setting and provided effective disease management.
Author(s): Fraser, R., Skinner, A.M., & Mueller, K.J.
Organization(s): Rural Policy Research Institute, RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis
Personal Success Tool
An interactive resource to help lifestyle coaches increase the retention of people with prediabetes or at risk
for type 2 diabetes in a lifestyle change program. Offers guides for program staff and motivational modules
designed to keep diabetes program participants engaged.
Organization(s): National Diabetes Prevention Program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)