Community health workers (CHWs) can reduce health disparities for low income patients. However, we do not know what types of contact between CHWs and people with diabetes work best. For example, what is better: telephone consults, texting or in-person visits? To answer these questions, a recent study looked at 523 low-income Hispanic/Latino primary care patients with poorly-controlled diabetes (HbA1c ≥ 9%) over 6 months. The average age of the participants was 58 years. Almost 60% were women and more than half did not have health insurance. One group received health support through telephone calls, another group through in-person clinic visits, and the final group through a combination of visits and telephone calls. The researchers found that improving diabetes control was less likely using just telephone calls compared to face-to-face clinic visits. In fact, it took participants more than 150 days longer to achieve control of their diabetes using telephone contact alone. To benefit at-risk, low-income patients with uncontrolled diabetes, in-person support and care may be required.
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