The Diabetes Prevention Support Center (DPSC) of the University of Pittsburgh is a non-profit organization that was established in 2006 with the primary goal of preventing diabetes and improving cardiovascular health. The Diabetes Prevention Support Center is one of the first in the country specifically developed to address the diabetes epidemic through evidence–based prevention intervention programs. The Center was developed with funding from the Department of Defense.
The mission of the Diabetes Prevention Support Center (DPSC) is to prevent or delay diabetes and improve cardiovascular health by providing education, training, and program support services to health professionals. In addition the DPSC also supports prevention services in the work and community setting and is a resource for the general public.
The DPSC believes that a comprehensive approach including education, screening, lifestyle intervention, evaluation, feedback, and continued support is the cornerstone of a successful disease prevention program, and that it will be most effective over time, if rooted in or linked to, the health care system.
The prevalence of diabetes has doubled over the last 25 years in the United States and now exceeds 29 million adults. The diabetes epidemic afflicts not only the U.S. but the entire world. Even possibly more alarming are the estimated 86 million individuals with prediabetes in the U.S. Another daunting component of this epidemic is that it is striking individuals at a much younger age and the occurrence of type 2 diabetes in childhood and adolescence is now not unusual.
Over the last several years there has been an explosion of positive research results demonstrating the delay and prevention of diabetes. The largest and most ethnically diverse was the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), a large multi-center research study funded by the National Institutes of Health. This study showed that making healthy lifestyle changes can reduce risk for developing diabetes. The Diabetes Prevention Support Center was created to facilitate prevention services for people everywhere.
An additional aspect of the diabetes epidemic that should be recognized is the close link between diabetes and cardiovascular risk. Currently, much attention is being paid to the metabolic syndrome, a collection of cardiovascular risk factors which include glucose intolerance, large waist measurement, abnormal blood fats and elevated blood pressure which predict an increased risk not only of cardiovascular disease but also of diabetes. Most experts largely attribute this syndrome to insulin resistance and feel it is closely aligned to the concurrent and recent rise in global obesity.
Through a partnership with the military, and with support from the Department of Defense, the DPSC was established to provide prevention services to both military and general populations. Subsequently, the DPSC acts as a central training center for intervention delivery via workshops as well as provision of subsequent post-training support. At the core of these workshops is training in delivery of a one-year group-based, behavioral lifestyle intervention called the Group Lifestyle Balance (GLB) program, which is modeled closely on the original 16-session DPP individual intervention. Changing from the individual to group format allows for greater reach and potentially greater cost-effectiveness in community settings. A DVD of the GLB weekly sessions has also been developed and is currently being evaluated for use in both training of health professionals and as a mode of intervention delivery.
A two-day training workshop for health professionals has been developed by DPSC faculty in order to provide a comprehensive, standardized overview of the GLB program and its implementation. The DPSC also provides guidance for these trained individuals as they initiate the intervention program in their local setting and as a resource for assistance regarding issues that arise in the course of program delivery. To further supplement this training and support system, a materials and assessment support center, the Physical Activity Resource Center (PARC), has been developed to provide the supplemental materials needed for a successful prevention intervention program.
- To facilitate identification of individuals at risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
- To reduce risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease by providing training and support for the delivery of the Group Lifestyle BalanceTM program in many diverse settings.
- To maintain and update the materials and resources used in the Group Lifestyle Balance program on a continuous basis.
- To become an established resource and advocate for diabetes prevention for local and national communities.