The Diabetes Advocacy Alliance and Healthy People: Putting Diabetes on the National Agenda

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 34 million adults in the United States have diabetes — and many of them don’t know they have it. The Diabetes Advocacy Alliance (DAA) is working to change that.

DAA, a coalition of 25 member organizations, raises awareness about diabetes on the national level with the ultimate goal of improving diabetes prevention, detection, and care. Healthy People 2030 includes several objectives related to preventing, diagnosing, and treating diabetes — providing the foundation for DAA’s partnership with ODPHP.

“Our partnership with ODPHP started in 2012, and it’s been going strong ever since,” says DAA Co-Chair Kate Thomas, MA, Director of Advocacy at the Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists. “Together, we reach a large audience of stakeholders, and we’ve made significant progress on advancing issues that are important to the diabetes community.”

Putting the Spotlight on Diabetes

Much of DAA’s work involves educating legislators and other policymakers about diabetes and prediabetes. But DAA’s partnership with ODPHP has often centered on educating public health and health care professionals instead.

Over the years, DAA and ODPHP worked together to create and present 5 Healthy People 2020 Spotlight on Health webinars. All 5 webinars were related to Healthy People diabetes objectives and covered topics like diabetes prevention, screening, and self-management.

One of the webinars, “Empowering People to Manage Their Diabetes,” drew a live audience of more than 1,400 participants — mainly public health and health care professionals — and many people viewed the recorded webinars after the live events.

“Through the Spotlight on Health webinars, we’ve raised awareness about critical issues like diabetes screening guidelines,” says DAA Co-Chair Hannah Martin, MPH, RDN, Director of Legislative and Government Affairs at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “This is key to increasing screening and diagnosis, especially among populations that are disproportionately burdened by diabetes and prediabetes and are at higher risk for serious complications.”

Addressing Social Determinants of Health

Martin says that throughout Healthy People 2020, DAA’s partnership with ODPHP focused on 4 objectives related to diabetes prevention and care. But that focus has expanded in the new decade, in line with Healthy People 2030’s increased and overarching emphasis on social determinants of health.

“At DAA, we’ve broadened our perspective,” Martin says. “We are increasingly using social determinants of health as a lens through which to consider our support for policies and legislation that advance the health and well-being of people with diabetes and prediabetes. And our activities continue to align with Healthy People diabetes objectives.”

Thomas cites a few examples of how DAA’s members are addressing social determinants of health and working to reduce health disparities:

  • Members raise awareness about diabetes screening guidelines to help increase screening and diagnosis of people in racial/ethnic minority groups that are at higher risk for diabetes or serious complications
  • Several members offer both in-person and online diabetes prevention programs, diabetes self-management training, and medical nutrition therapy — which makes these services available to people who might not otherwise have access
  • Members’ efforts to establish the National Diabetes Prevention Program and the Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program helped make local prevention programs available across the country for groups that are disproportionately affected by diabetes

Continuing Collaboration

Throughout their partnership, DAA and ODPHP have met with other federal agencies to share research and information — and to discuss how they can collaborate to address key diabetes-related issues.

In addition, DAA has helped its members use Healthy People by offering information about the initiative — like the launch of Healthy People 2030. It also provides members with messages they can share on their websites or social media platforms to raise awareness about Healthy People among their own audiences.

Thomas says she looks forward to DAA’s continued collaboration with ODPHP as the decade advances. “We’ve accomplished a lot through the years, and we’re excited to continue working together to advance critical diabetes awareness, prevention, and care issues.”

Categories: Blog, Healthy People in Action