Ensuring the sustainability of diabetes interventions

An overview of a new study published in Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice. 

by Virginia Hagger

Conducting research to develop effective diabetes prevention and care interventions is of little value if such interventions cannot be sustained beyond the trial setting, in the real world. Thus, it is important to identify barriers and enablers of sustainability.

In this study, Garst and colleagues selected 11 of 41 BRIDGES (Bringing Research in Diabetes to Global Environments and Systems) translational research projects. Their selection was based on purposive sampling, which ensured variation in the projects in terms of duration, funding, number of participants, geographical location and topic. Qualitative data were collected from project reports and qualitative interviews, in order to explore sustainability enablers, barriers and outcomes. The result is a framework of three sustainability outcome categories: ’sustainability at the intervention site(s)’, ‘diffusion to the wider community’, and ‘replication of the intervention at other sites’. For each outcome category, barriers/enablers and goals are described, with examples from the data. For example, the goals for ‘sustainability at the intervention site’ include maintaining community and participant benefits, maintaining intervention activities and policies, maintaining community-level partnerships, and sustained attention to the issue and intervention in the community. The enabling activities involve developing local ownership through stakeholder involvement and regular communication. Based on international data from translational research projects, the framework provides evidence-based, practical advice for ensuring that health interventions are sustainable. For the complete framework, read the paper here.

Garst J, Heveder RL, Siminerio LM, Motala AA, Gabbay RA, Chaney D and Cavan D (2017) Sustaining diabetes prevention and care interventions: A multiple case study of translational research projects. Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice. 130: 67-76.

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