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January 27, 1999
Contact: Lisa Swenarski
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
(770) 488-5328
CDC, Division of Media Relations
(404) 639-3286

CDC Announces Research Program for Diabetes

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today announced a new multi-center 5 year study in managed care organizations designed to evaluate and improve the health care and health status of people with diabetes. The CDC calls this new initiative Translational Research. First-year funding for the project is $2.4 million.

Translational Research will be conducted in three components: assessing the level and quality of care implemented in practice, exploring the factors that affect variations in implementation and identifying barriers to change, and identifying and testing change strategies aimed at achieving optimal care.

"This study will help us understand and improve the quality of care and quality of life for people with diabetes," said Dr. Frank Vinicor, Director of CDC's Division of Diabetes Translation.

More than 16 million people have diabetes, and it is a leading cause of new cases of blindness, kidney failure, and amputations. The direct and indirect costs of diabetes are $98 billion annually.

"We know many efficacious treatments for diabetes and it is our challenge to see that they reach patients as soon as possible," said Dr. Venkat Narayan, principal investigator for this study. "Early detection and treatment of retinopathy can reduce severe vision loss by 60-70 percent, and regular foot care can reduce serious foot disease by 50-60 percent. Education of persons with diabetes can significantly improve control of their metabolism. The potential benefits to the Medicare and Medicaid programs, as well as improvements in the quality of life of our aging population, could be profound. Despite the value of these treatments, they are not currently used as much as they should be."

The diabetes study will run for 5 years and involves six research centers located in HI, CA, TX, MI, IN, and NJ. The six research centers, along with a Coordinating Center, will work together to assess current diabetes treatments and their effectiveness with different ethnic groups, develop new interventions, and measure how well they work. "This is the largest study of its kind ever undertaken," says Rebecca Klemm, Ph.D., president of Klemm Analysis Group in Washington D.C. and principal investigator for the Coordinating Center. "This project will focus on the development of disease protocols appropriate across a wide range of health-care delivery systems, especially managed care programs. We'll have to work together to assess current diabetes treatments and agree on treatment goals. This consensus approach is a key element of the translational research program."

The CDC selected the six research centers after a competitive review process. "These centers provide a geographic and ethnic representation of the United States, including African-Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, Asian-Pacific Islanders and white," explains Dr. Vinicor. "We know diabetes has different physiological impacts on different ethnic groups, though we don't know why. But we hope to learn if certain monitoring or educational programs can be effective at reducing diabetes for all Americans, regardless of their health insurance or health care provider."

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