Accelerating Best Practices in Peer Support Around the World

UNC Peers for Progress Joins Michigan Center for Diabetes Translational Research

UNC Peers for Progress is proud to join the Michigan Center for Diabetes Translational Research (MCDTR) to foster rigorous translational research on peer support for the improvement of diabetes prevention, management, and quality-of-life. The new UM–UNC Peer Support Core is co-directed by Ed Fisher, PhD at UNC Peers for Progress and Michele Heisler, MD, MPA at the MCDTR.

The Specific Aims of the Core are:

  • To provide investigators with access to expertise and resources on peer support in order to promote innovative research that will accelerate the adoption and dissemination of effective and cost-effective peer support interventions.
  • To provide investigators technical assistance and training in peer support program development, implementation, evaluation, training, and quality improvement.
  • To strengthen the networking between investigators at Michigan, UNC Chapel Hill, and other universities doing research in or interested in research utilizing peer support.

The Core will achieve these specific aims by providing the following key services:

  • Share and tailor resources for various forms of peer support interventions in a range of populations and settings.
  • Offer extended technical assistance for program implementation and evaluation.
  • Provide expert consultation to investigators who are developing proposals for external funding.
  • Host a yearly working meeting that will address an important issue in peer support and diabetes, such as peer support for depression and diabetes. The meeting will invite distinguished speakers and presenters from CDTRs and other settings.
  • Facilitate sharing of published papers and reports, training and intervention methods, practice-oriented lessons learned, and other materials of interest to the research and practice communities.

MCDTR Overview

The goal of the Michigan Center for Diabetes Translational Research (MCDTR) is to establish, promote, and enhance multidisciplinary collaboration among researchers directed at the prevention and control of diabetes, its complications, and comorbidities, by providing access to specialized expertise and resources. To achieve this goal, the MCDTR supports four translational research Cores:

  • Administration Core
  • Methods and Measurement Core
  • Intervention and Technology Research Core
  • University of Michigan (UM) – University of North Carolina (UNC) Peer Support Core

The Cores support innovative adaptations of evidence-based approaches to diabetes prevention and control that can be widely disseminated to positively impact clinical and community practice. The Center also provides an Enrichment Program and a Pilot and Feasibility Study (P/FS) Grants Program to attract, develop, and retain new investigators in the field of type 2 translational research in diabetes.

The MCDTR focuses on type 2 translational research― research focused on translating interventions that have clearly demonstrated efficacy into real-world populations, health care settings, and communities. The goal of the MCDTR is to ensure that new research knowledge and treatments actually reach the patients and populations for whom they are intended, and that they are implemented correctly. The MCDTR seeks to improve the quality of medical care by helping patients and clinicians alter behaviors and make more informed choices. By empowering the patient, strengthening the patient-clinician relationship, providing reminders and point-of-care decision support tools, and by understanding barriers to implementation and reorganizing and coordinating systems of care, more effective prevention and treatment of diabetes can be achieved.

The MCDTR is cognizant that type 2 translation requires implementing and evaluating interventions in the real-world. Through practice-based research networks, health systems, and communities, at-risk populations can be identified and new approaches for the prevention and treatment of diabetes can be implemented and assessed. The MCDTR recognizes that change is impeded by human behavior and organizational inertia, infrastructure and resource constraints, and the messiness of implementing interventions under conditions that investigators cannot fully control. The MCDTR is committed to using resources available from basic and clinical research, comparative effectiveness research, behavioral science, clinical epidemiology, implementation science research, communication theory, organizational theory, public policy, financing, system redesign, and informatics to address these barriers.

The four MCDTR Cores provide researchers tools to translate the evidence base for diabetes prevention and control into practice. Each of the Cores is designed to provide for efficient management of resources and close communication, cooperation, and collaboration among researchers engaged in type 2 translational research in diabetes.

The Administration Core (directed by Bill Herman) is responsible for the functioning of the Center. It coordinates, integrates, and provides guidance for the establishment of new programs in diabetes translational research. It maintains the Research Base. It also administers the Enrichment Program, the P/FS Grants Program, and the Center website.

The Methods and Measurement Core (directed by Rod Hayward and Wen Ye) is focused on design, measurement, and analysis issues in translational research. It assists Center investigators in innovative study designs (quasi-experimental design, adaptive and practical clinical trials), state-of-the-art approaches to statistical analyses (modeling analyses for complex designs and data systems), and health economic analyses to evaluate the quality-of-life impact, cost, and cost-effectiveness of interventions. It also assists investigators in evaluating the reliability, validity, and utility of alternative approaches to performance measurement and profiling and in assessing the strengths and weaknesses of different data sources.

The Intervention and Technology Research Core (directed by John Piette) is focused on the use of theoretically-driven conceptual models for interventions including behavior change, tailored messaging, peer and family support, care management, and benefit and delivery system redesign. It also assists investigators with technology-based approaches to intervention delivery. These include automated telephone interventions, internet-based behavior change tools and support, and online decision support. The Core also ensures that investigators have ready access to existing hardware, software, and technical expertise that can be adapted to new interventions.

The UM–UNC Peer Support Core (directed by Ed Fisher and Michele Heisler) focuses on fostering rigorous translational research on peer support defined as support and encouragement of improved diabetes prevention, management, and quality-of-life by nonprofessionals and through diverse settings and media. The core is responsive to the dramatic increase in research utilizing peer support as a strategy for diabetes prevention and management and the presence of unusual strength in peer support research at UNC (Peers for Progress, Dr. Fisher and colleagues) and at the University of Michigan (Dr. Heisler and colleagues). As a national translational research core, the UM–UNC Peer Support Core networks with other CDTR researchers and those at other universities interested in or doing research using peer support.  A highlight of networking is an annual working meeting addressing an important issue in peer support and diabetes. The core also facilitates the sharing of published papers and reports, training and intervention methods, practice-oriented lessons learned, and other materials of interest through the MCDTR website and the website of Peers for Progress and through updates to its key documents, such as the comprehensive peer support Program Development Guide.

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