Accelerating Best Practices in Peer Support Around the World

Student Blogs


Diabetes Education is Only the Start

Sarah Kowitt, MPH


This past week, I was in Orlando, FL for the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) Conference. While the conference was geared towards diabetes education, I was glad to see several sessions that recognized the importance of support for diabetes self-management.

For instance, Marti Funnell, who gave a keynote lecture on one of the most important diabetes studies in the last decade—the DAWN study—stressed that while we may be doing a good job tackling clinical issues in diabetes care, psychosocial issues, such as emotional well-being and support are under-addressed. For example, while 73% of people with diabetes received regular clinical assessments like HbA1c measurements, only 32% reported that they were asked by members of their healthcare team in the past 12 months about being anxious or depressed.1 Most healthcare professionals (63%) even agreed that there is a major need for better availability of resources for the provision…


My Reflections from ADA 2014

Sarah Kowitt, MPH

Two weeks ago marked my second trip to the annual American Diabetes Association conference. Held in San Francisco, the conference brought together experts from around the world to tackle the most pressing issues in diabetes care and research. As a PhD student in Health Behavior, here are my takeaways from the sessions.

Meeting People from Around the World

The ADA conference was attended by approximately 17,300 people from more than 121 countries. Anecdotally, I heard that 40% of the attendees came from outside the United States. With a “World Cup Lounge” set up on the second floor where participants could watch live football matches, this was not hard to believe.

While presenting my poster on emotional support for patients with type 2 diabetes, I struck up conversations with a researcher from Montreal, a health educator from Orlando, a doctor from Nigeria, a diabetologist from Denmark, and a nurse practitioner from China. I also participated in…


What makes people lose trust in CHWs: CHW perspectives in Bangladesh

Melissa Mayer, MPH Candidate

Peerness and trust are key ingredients for successful peer support programs and community health worker (CHW) interventions. However, when peer supporters and CHWs lack the resources they need to achieve program goals, their hard-earned trust in the community erodes and they become demoralized. Such setbacks can prevent these frontline workers from reaching their potential as agents of change for community health.

In a recent article, Puett and colleagues set out to understand barriers to the effectiveness of CHW intervention methods. The investigators conducted focus group discussions (n=10) with two groups of CHWs working on preventive care and community case management of common childhood illnesses in Bangladesh. One group was trained to treat acute respiratory infection (ARI) and diarrhea, while the other addressed severe acute malnutrition (SAM). The findings highlighted the importance of having proper community resources in place, providing…

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