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Design of a randomized controlled trial of digital health and community health worker support for diabetes management among low-income patients.

Harte R, Norton L, Whitehouse C, Lorincz I, Jones D, Gerald N, Estrada I, Sabini C, Mitra N, Long JA, Cappella J, Glanz K, Volpp KG, Kangovi S. Design of a randomized controlled trial of digital health and community health worker support for diabetes management among low-income patients. Contemporary clinical trials communications. 2022 Feb 1; 25:100878.

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Background: Insulin-dependent diabetes is a challenging disease to manage and involves complex behaviors, such as self-monitoring of blood glucose. This can be especially challenging in the face of socioeconomic barriers and in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Digital health self-monitoring interventions and community health worker support are promising and complementary best practices for improving diabetes-related health behaviors and outcomes. Yet, these strategies have not been tested in combination. This protocol paper describes the rationale and design of a trial that measures the combined effect of digital health and community health worker support on glucose self-monitoring and glycosylated hemoglobin. Methods: The study population was uninsured or publicly insured; lived in high-poverty, urban neighborhoods; and had poorly controlled diabetes mellitus with insulin dependence. The study consisted of three arms: usual diabetes care; digital health self-monitoring; or combined digital health and community health worker support. The primary outcome was adherence to blood glucose self-monitoring. The exploratory outcome was change in glycosylated hemoglobin. Conclusion: The design of this trial was grounded in social justice and community engagement. The study protocols were designed in collaboration with frontline community health workers, the study aim was explicit about furthering knowledge useful for advancing health equity, and the population was focused on low-income people. This trial will advance knowledge of whether combining digital health and community health worker interventions can improve glucose self-monitoring and diabetes-related outcomes in a high-risk population.

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