Pilot randomized controlled trial of a complex intervention for diabetes self-management supported by volunteers, technology, and interprofessional primary health care teams
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Background: Most health care for people with diabetes occurs in family practice, yet balancing the time and resources to help these patients can be difficult. An intervention empowering patients, leveraging community resources, and assisting self-management could benefit patients and providers. Thus, the feasibility and potential for effectiveness of "Health Teams Advancing Patient Experience, Strengthening Quality through Health Connectors for Diabetes Management" (Health TAPESTRY-HC-DM) as an approach supporting diabetes self-management was explored to inform development of a future large-scale trial. Methods: Four-month pilot randomized controlled trial (RCT), sequential explanatory qualitative component. Participants-patients of an interprofessional primary care team-were over age 18 years, diagnosed with diabetes and hypertension, and had Internet access and one of the following: uncontrolled HbA1c, recent diabetes diagnosis, end-stage/secondary organ damage, or provider referral. The Health TAPESTRY-HC-DM intervention focused on patient health goals/needs, integrating community volunteers, eHealth technologies, interprofessional primary care teams, and system navigation. Pilot outcomes included process measures (recruitment, retention, program participation), perceived program feasibility, benefits and areas for improvement, and risks or safety issues. The primary trial outcome was self-efficacy for managing diabetes. There were a number of secondary trial outcomes. Results: Of 425 eligible patients invited, 50 signed consent (11.8%) and 35 completed the program (15 intervention, 20 control). Volunteers (n = 20) met 28 clients in 234 client encounters (home visits, phone calls, electronic messages); 27 reports were sent to the interprofessional team. At 4 months, controlling for baseline, most outcomes were better in the intervention compared to control group; physical activity notably better. The most common goal domains set were physical activity, diet/nutrition, and social connection. Clients felt the biggest impact was motivation toward goal achievement. They struggled with some of the technologies. Several participants perceived that the program was not a good fit, mostly those that felt they were already well-managing their diabetes. Conclusions: Health TAPESTRY-HC-DM was feasible; a large-scale randomized controlled trial seems possible. However, further attention needs to be paid to improving recruitment and retention. The intervention was well received, though was a better fit for some participants than others. Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT02715791. Registered 22 March 2016-retrospectively registered.