Researchers at NYU School of Medicine evaluated worsening diabetes trends in Sikh Indians, the largest South Asian Subgroup in NYC¹. The purpose of their study was to find a general diabetes prevention method that targeted specific Asian groups: weight, BMI, and blood pressure.
The methods included using community health workers to lead six intervention classes with 10 follow-up phone calls for the treatment group versus no phone calls and one prevention class for the control group.The study duration was eight months and two weeks. Control and treatment groups were recruited from two neighborhood gurdwaras based on two randomization rotations, first rotation selecting Richmond Hill as the control and South Ozone Park as the treatment group, then reversed for rotation 2. Richmond Hill has a 8% unemployment rate with a median household income of $68,496 in 2019. South Ozone Park has a 10% unemployment rate with a median household income of $67,664 in 2019.
For maximum engagement from the treatment-group participants, classes used Sikh core values. The topics are as follows: educating about the higher risk of diabetes in Asians, ways for creating healthier versions of their Punjabi cuisines, equating the importance of physical exercise to the importance of prayer and meditation, discussions about diabetes and mental health (Diabetes Distress Syndrome)¹. Lastly, the participants were given info on available health facilities and physicians for follow-up. The ten follow-up phone calls were constructed as a post-treatment reflection tool, for patients to set goals and plans for establishing a healthier lifestyle in the near future. The control group had no follow-up phone calls.
Results: 174 participants were enrolled in the 6 month program, the treatment group reported losing more than 7% of their weight in comparison to the control group. Though more work needs to be done, this is a pilot study on the effectiveness of a culturally adapted diabetes prevention program.
¹Lim, Sahnah; Wyatt, Laura; Chauhan, Harmanpreet; Zanowiak, Jennifer M.; Kavathe, Rucha; Singh, Hardayal; Kwon, Simona; Trinh-Shevrin, Chau; and Islam, Nadia S. (2019) “A Culturally Adapted Diabetes Prevention Intervention in the New York City Sikh Asian Indian Community Leads to Improvements in Health Behaviors and Outcomes,” Health Behavior Research: Vol. 2: No. 1. https://doi.org/10.4148/2572-1836.1027