“Peers for Progress” awards grants to support diabetes peer support research

April 07, 2009
Dr. Ed Fisher

Dr. Ed Fisher

Peers for Progress, a program of the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation led by Edwin B. Fisher, PhD, professor in the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, has announced grants totaling $7 million to diabetes researchers on six continents.

The grants, distributed over 12 to 32 months, will fund 14 research projects to document the contributions of peer support to diabetes management and demonstrate models for peer support programs around the world.

The grants were made available through a gift from the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation, to help the diabetes community establish a new, evidence-based model of peer education and support for people with diabetes. The model builds on peer support’s core functions, such as assistance with daily management tasks, social and emotional encouragement to stay motivated and deal with the stress chronic disease often brings, and help in staying connected to clinical care.

“There are few things with as much potential as peer and social support to help people live healthier lives,” said Fisher, Global Director of Peers for Progress. “At the same time, differences in cultures and health care systems complicate how to promote peer support. That’s why Peers for Progress is working to develop research and program models around the world – so wherever they are, program developers can find and develop a model that works in their setting.”

The projects will range from clinic- to community-based, and are expected to impact people with diabetes at all socio-economic levels in urban, suburban and rural areas. Some of the methods to be evaluated include face-to-face interaction, text messaging and online support. Through these means, people with diabetes can help one another manage their disease by sharing knowledge and offering emotional support.

A Program Development Center at UNC provides support for grantees and the overall Peers for Progress initiative. Joining Fisher in this are Renée Boothroyd, PhD, MA, MPH, CHES, director; Katherine I. Nelson, MPH, CHES, program manager; and faculty advisers Jo Anne Earp, ScD, Eugenia Eng, DrPH, Laura Linnan, ScD, Suzanne Maman, PhD, and Deborah Tate, PhD, from the Gillings School of Global Public Health; and, from the School of Medicine, John Buse, MD, PhD, Timothy Dalleman, DO, MPH, Camille B. Izlar, MS, RD, CDE, and Adam Zolotor, MD, MPH.

For more information about the Peers for Progress program, visit www.peersforprogress.org.

UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: Ramona DuBose, director of communications, (919) 966-7467 or ramona_dubose@unc.edu.