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Open Access Highly Accessed Study protocol

Peer support in type 2 diabetes: a randomised controlled trial in primary care with parallel economic and qualitative analyses: pilot study and protocol

Gillian M Paul1*, Susan M Smith1, David L Whitford2, Eamon O'Shea3, Fergus O'Kelly4 and Tom O'Dowd1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland

2 Department of General Practice, RCSI, Dublin 2, Ireland

3 Irish Centre for Social Gerontology, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland

4 Trinity College-Eastern Regional General Practice Training Programme, Health Services Executive, Dublin 2, Ireland

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BMC Family Practice 2007, 8:45  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-8-45

Published: 31 July 2007

Abstract

Background

Diabetes is a chronic illness, which requires the individual to assume responsibility for their own care with the aim of maintaining glucose and blood pressure levels as close to normal as possible. Traditionally self-management training for diabetes has been delivered in a didactic manner. In recent times alternatives to the traditional delivery of diabetes care have been investigated, for example, the concept of peer support which emphasises patient rather than professional domination. This paper describes the pilot study and protocol for a study that aims to evaluate the effectiveness of a peer support intervention for people with type 2 diabetes in a primary care setting.

Methods/Design

A pilot study was conducted to access the feasibility of a randomized controlled trial of a peer support intervention. We used the MRC Framework for the evaluation of complex interventions. Elements of the intervention were defined and the study protocol was finalized. In this cluster randomised controlled trial twenty general practices are assigned to control and intervention groups. Each practice compiles a diabetes register and randomly selects 21 patients. All practices implement a standardised diabetes care system. In the intervention group all practices recruit three peer supporters. The peer supporters are trained to conduct nine group meetings in their general practice over a period of two years. Each meeting has a structured component. The primary outcomes are blood pressure, total cholesterol, HBA1c and the Diabetes Well-being score. In addition to biophysical, psychosocial, economic and health service utilization data peer supporter activity and qualitative data are collected.

Discussion

Peer support is a complex intervention and evaluating such an intervention presents challenges to researchers. This study will evaluate whether a peer support programme for patients with type 2 diabetes improves biophysical and psychosocial outcomes and whether it is an acceptable, cost effective intervention in the primary care setting.

Trial registration

Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN42541690