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The University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Family and Community Medicine’s Vice Chair for Research Tapan Mehta, Ph.D., is partnering with investigators at the University of Mississippi Medical Center to lead a $3.6 million study to develop a sustainable and effective Type 2 diabetes management intervention in adults who have Type 2 diabetes and sub-optimal social determinants of health.

Mehta and Michael Hall, M.D., chair of the Department of Medicine at UMMC, will be leading the Food Delivery, Remote Monitoring and Coaching-Enhanced Education for Optimized Diabetes Management — FREEDOM — study. This study will use intervention components that target social determinants of health related to transportation barriers, health services access, quality of care and food insecurity.

The FREEDOM study is a pragmatic optimization trial supported by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities and the Forge AHEAD Center. This study will enroll patients to evaluate variables such as health coaching, food delivery and remote patient-monitoring, to see which will help patients manage diabetes and also be sustainable for health systems to implement.

States located in the Deep South, such as Alabama and Mississippi, have the highest rates of Type 2 diabetes and some of the worst outcomes due to diabetes-related cardiovascular disease and chronic kidney disease, Mehta says. These diseases disproportionately burden Black Americans because most of these racial health disparities can be attributed to social determinants of health, including reduced health care access, poverty, transportation barriers and food insecurity. Investigators say there is a need for effective and sustainable intervention packages that address outcomes related to diabetes.

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