Whatcom County Diabetes Connection
In April 2009, the Critical Junctures Institute and the Diabetes and Nutrition Clinic, St. Joseph Hospital began an action research project with a planning group of diabetic patients highly motivated to develop a diabetes self-management program in Whatcom County.
The goal of self-management is for persons with a chronic illness to keep themselves as healthy as possible, minimizing their risk of further health problems and unwanted visits to physicians or hospital.
Self-management means taking responsibility for the daily treatment of a chronic condition, such as making choices surrounding medication, diet, exercise, and other lifestyle issues that can affect one’s health.
Using principles of “citizen health care”(pdf) developed by Professors Bill Doherty and Tai Mendenhall at the University of Minnesota, CJI will work with these “activated patients” to develop a citizen “owned and operated” support system for persons who have been diagnosed with diabetes and have participated in a structured diabetes education program, but continue to struggle to keep their diabetes under control.
The willingness and ability of persons to manage their chronic illness is not equal. The “Patient Activation Measure”
developed by Drs. Judith Hibbard, University of Oregon, and Bill Mahoney, a CJI affiliated researcher, has emerged as a valid and reliable indicator of the variability in persons with a chronic condition undertaking informed daily choices in managing one's own health and healthcare.
Where applicable, such as in the Diabetes Connection initiative, CJI’s action research projects will consider the role that assessing “patient activation” plays in designing and implementing effective chronic disease self-management programs in Whatcom County.
Diabetes Connections Peer Partner Leadership Group, including Maureen Hewson, Peer Partner Coach and Volunteer Coordinator, front left; Alan Friedlob, Project Director, front center; and Cindy Brinn, coordinator of the Nutrition & Diabetes Center, PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center, back row, right.