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Rural Health Information Hub

Success Factors

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 the 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 and 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 expectations.
  • 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 is 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 engaged 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 crucial to 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.

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
Date: 2006

Personal Success Tool (Retention 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)