Collaboration between URI Professors, Brown undergraduate and Lifespan MD results in an intervention that reduces risk of chronic diseases for new immigrants

View the Vida Sana paper here Contact Elizabeth Rau (401-874-2116) for more information KINGSTON, R.I. – July 11, 2014 –A new program for uninsured, predominantly Spanish-speaking immigrants decreased risk factors (blood sugar, cholesterol, body mass index or waist circumference) associated with the development of chronic diseases in 60% of participants. The key to the success of the Vida Sana /Healthy Life program, says Professor De Groot of URI, is that the program is taught by peers, and engages patients in a social situation where ‘healthy lifestyles’ are encouraged. The intervention was designed by an interdisciplinary group including diabetes expert Susan Oliverio M.D. from Lifespan Hospital, Rhode Island College Nursing program graduate Valerie Joseph, RN, URI faculty Shahla Yekta Ph.D and Annie De Groot M.D. and Brown undergraduate Jacob Buckley. Metabolic syndrome is an increasingly common condition that can contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. 35 % of adults living in the United States meet the criteria for having metabolic syndrome, with that number being even higher in populations (such as those living in the neighborhood near the clinic) who are affected by health disparities. The ‘’Vida Sana/Healthy Life’’ (Vida Sana) program is a ‘healthy lifestyles’ program implemented at Clínica Esperanza/ Hope Clinic (CEHC), a free clinic serving a predominantly Hispanic cohort of low-income, uninsured individuals living in Providence, Rhode Island. Even though the program cost less than $600 per participant over the eight week study period and three month follow up period, the results were very comparable to a more comprehensive lifestyle interventions, which usually require intensive participation over a six-month period. At the end of the intervention, the average Vida Sana participant had lost nearly four pounds of body weight, while the average weight change observed in three other lifestyle intervention studies was a loss of two to seven pounds. 82.9 % of Vida Sana participants demonstrated improvements in health literacy, while Spanish-speaking participants in another study showed only a 69 % improvement rate. This Vida Sana/Healthy Life program uses specially designed low literacy, language-appropriate materials (developed by Dr. Oliverio) and trained peer educators (Navegantes, see clinic website for more information about the Navegantes) to educate participants about healthy lifestyles in a setting that also provided opportunities for social engagement. 192 of 126 (65.6 %) participants in Vida Sana completed 6 out of 8 sessions of the Vida Sana program over a 12-month period. The report was recently published in the Journal of Community Health. Funding for the Vida Sana/Healthy Life program was provided to CEHC by CVS, the American Medical Association Foundation and the Rhode Island Department of Health (Center for Health Equity and Wellness Program). More information about Clinica Esperanza/Hope Clinic and the Vida Sana/ Healthy Life program can be found at Clinica Esperanza/Hope Clinic is a free, largely volunteer healthcare clinic in the Olneyville neighborhood in Providence’s West End. The clinic offers treatment for chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Additional services such as a women’s clinic, diabetes support groups, and healthy lifestyle/nutrition education are also available through the clinic. The clinic only serves uninsured individuals who do not already have a primary care doctor. The primary care clinic sees continuing patients on Tuesday and Thursday nights from 5 to 9 p.m. The walk in (non-urgent) CHEER clinic for unaffiliated and uninsured patients is open Monday through Friday from 2 to 7 p.m. To learn more about the clinic, volunteer opportunities, and other programs going at Clinica Esperanza/Hope Clinic, visit the clinic website