From research to practice: Challenges to implementing national diabetes guidelines with five community health centers on the U.S.-Mexico border

Kenneth A. Schachter, Stuart J. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background Given the dramatic increase in type 2 diabetes in the United States, the development of effective strategies to prevent and control this potentially devastating illness is more important than ever. In the Southwest, diabetes is a far too common and rapidly growing problem among Mexican Americans living near the U.S.-Mexico border. A project designed to address this problem enabled faculty from the University of Arizona to work with community health centers to evaluate and improve diabetes care in border communities. Context This project was a component of the Border Health Strategic Initiative (Border Health ¡SI!) and Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health 2010 (REACH 2010), both funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. University of Arizona faculty worked in partnership with five community health centers funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration. The goal of the faculty was to assist the community health centers with 1) development of measures of diabetes care based on national clinical practice guidelines, 2) identification of gaps in care based on those measures, and 3) implementation of strategies for closing those gaps. Methods All five centers prioritized their top four or five indicators of diabetes care (e.g., annual dilated eye examination). Different community health centers selected different indicators. Baseline medical record audits were performed using the chosen indicators. Individual results were shared confidentially with providers; overall center results were shared and discussed with providers and staff. Consequences Each clinic chose its own strategies for closing gaps in care. At one-year follow-up, there was evidence of improvement for the majority of indicators in all community health centers. However, some gaps remained. Of the three community health centers having a second-year evaluation, two maintained or increased the improvements made, but one lost ground. Interpretation Our experience with these five border clinics was that translating guidelines into practice is easier said than done. Factors that favored success included an onsite champion, staffbuy-in, a willingness to see systems change, and the availability of additional resources, particularly for chart reviews.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number79
JournalPreventing Chronic Disease
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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