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New grant will support research into diabetes self-management for seniors

Mar 5, 2018
Guylaine Spencer

older man

A research team led by School of Nursing faculty will search for ways to support older adults living with diabetes together with other chronic conditions, thanks to a multi-year, $1.8 million grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), in partnership with Diabetes Action Canada and the McMaster Institute for Research on Aging. 

Drs. Jenny Ploeg, Maureen Markle-Reid, and Ruta Valaitis are the project’s co-principal investigators; Drs. Kathryn Fisher,  Rebecca Ganann, and Diana Sherifali, also from McMaster School of Nursing, are co-applicants. The team includes several other researchers from across Canada (see citation below). 

This project builds on a previous research project recently conducted by the McMaster University Aging, Community and Health Research Unit (ACHRU). Dr. Jenny Ploeg, Dr. Maureen Markle-Reid, and Dr. Ruta Valaitis are scientific directors of ACHRU. As the team explained in their application, the earlier project “developed and tested a new patient-centered, community-based program to improve the delivery and outcomes of care for older adults with diabetes and other chronic conditions. This 6-month program was developed and tested in partnership with patients, caregivers, primary and community care providers and researchers. The program is delivered by nurses, dietitians and community providers. It involves in-home visits by nurses and dietitians, monthly group wellness sessions at community centers, and monthly team meetings. Wellness sessions include exercise, education, shared meals, and social support. Caregivers are invited to be active participants along with patients. The program was successfully implemented in Ontario and Alberta. Participants who received the program had better quality of life, self-management, and mental health at no additional cost compared to those receiving usual care. To determine how the program can best help people, more testing is needed with different communities in more diverse jurisdictions, and with different groups of people.” 

The new CIHR grant will permit the team to test the program in different communities, says Ploeg. “We will partner with primary healthcare teams in three provinces to adapt and test the program in a variety of real-world settings. We will assess how to best put this program into practice and measure outcomes important to patients and caregivers so study results are relevant to them. Study findings will guide the development of a plan for expanding the program to reach and benefit more older adults with diabetes and other chronic health conditions. Patients and caregivers will be involved as key partners in all aspects of the research.” 

Dr. Michael McGillion is the Assistant Dean, Research, School of Nursing. “Diabetes and the health needs of older adults are two of the biggest challenges facing Canadian healthcare today, and researchers at the McMaster School of Nursing are on the forefront of research addressing these issues,” he says. “In addition, the Aging, Community and Health Research Unit (ACHRU), with its emphasis on patient engagement and community-based health care, is an outstanding example of cutting-edge, contemporary health research methodology.”     

Grant details:

Researchers: Ploeg, J., Markle-Reid, M., Valaitis, R. (Co-PIs), Principal Applicants: Dicerni, P., Fisher, K., Ganann, R., Graham, P., Gruneir, A., Johnson, B., Légaré, F., Mansell, L., Montelpare, W., Reid, P., Tang, F., Upshur, R.; Co-Applicants: Ben Charif, A., Blais, J., Eurich, D., Gafni, A., Lewis, G., MacCallum, L., Paquette, J-S., Pritchard, J., Riveroll, A., Sadowski, C., Sherifali, D., Thabane, L., & Williamson, T.

Title of grant: The Aging, Community and Health Research Unit (ACHRU) Community Partnership Program for Diabetes Self-Management for Older Adults - Canada.

Funding details: Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) - Primary and Integrated Health Care Innovations (PIHCI) Network: Programmatic Grants. Jan. 1, 2018-Dec. 31, 2021; $1,846,062; Matching in-kind: $654,563


Community-based program improves quality of life for older adults with diabetes and other chronic conditions


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