Peers for Progress receives $5 million to provide peer counseling for Hispanics with diabetes

December 02, 2010
Dr. Ed Fisher

Dr. Ed Fisher

The American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation (AAFPF) Peers for Progress program, led by University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health professor Edwin Fisher, PhD, has received a $5 million grant from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation (BMSF). The grant will fund a three-year demonstration project to evaluate how the combination of peer support and community outreach along with high-quality, patient-centered primary care can affect health outcomes and quality of life for low-income Hispanic adults with diabetes.

Peers for Progress is linked to UNC’s public health school through its Program Development Center, based in the School’s health behavior and health education department. Several UNC School of Medicine faculty members also are involved. Other partners include the National Council of La Raza, the largest Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, and TransforMED, the AAFP’s wholly-owned subsidiary devoted to helping primary care practices provide more effective, patient-centered care. Together, the partners will develop protocols and training materials for peer and community support and for integrating these with primary care.

The grant is one of four initial grants awarded by the BMSF as part of its newly announced, five-year, $100 million initiative, Together on Diabetes®, to help patients living with type 2 diabetes achieve long-term success in managing their disease beyond the doors of their doctor’s office.

“Type 2 diabetes affects about one in 12 Americans and could affect as many as one in three Americans by 2050,” Fisher said. “The disease disproportionately affects the poor and elderly, as well as certain minority populations including African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans and Asian Americans.”

Central to the project will be diabetes care in the context of a patient-centered medical home. TransforMED will help participating practices maximize the quality of care by ensuring patients are connected to peer support and other community resources to help them overcome the challenges of living with diabetes.

Based on their extensive experience with peer support programs for helping people lead healthier lives, Peers for Progress and the National Council of La Raza will develop peer support or “promotora” programs that support individuals with diabetes as well as cultivating community resources for diabetes management and healthy lives.

Beyond the demonstration sites, the project will develop a variety of resources and materials for dissemination through the collaborating organizations’ networks across the United States. These tools will address the common need for the training of peer supporters, as well as other protocols necessary to help other organizations successfully carry out and evaluate the effectiveness of their work.

“Integrating peer support and community outreach within the patient-centered medical home model of care can dramatically impact the health and quality of life for patients living with diabetes,” Fisher said. “By pooling the resources of all the partners, we can provide high-risk communities not only models for diabetes but also most of the other chronic diseases whose management also centers on healthy diet, physical activity, and regular, quality care.”


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