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UA Study Recognized for Community Impact

Tomas Nuno, principal investigator of the Meta Salud Diabetes study and Lorena Verdugo from El Rio Health Center. Photo courtesy of El Rio Health Center. Photo courtesy of El Rio Health Center.

Tomas Nuno, principal investigator of the Meta Salud Diabetes study and Lorena Verdugo from El Rio Health Center. Photo courtesy of El Rio Health Center. Photo courtesy of El Rio Health Center.

El Rio Meta Salud Diabetes study participants and staff. Photo courtesy of El Rio Health Center.

El Rio Meta Salud Diabetes study participants and staff. Photo courtesy of El Rio Health Center.

A pilot study to reduce cardiovascular disease and its complications among Hispanic diabetes patients in Arizona was awarded first place in the Community Impact Category at the 4th Annual El Rio - The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education Health Research Fair on May 8 in Tucson, Airzona.

The peer-reviewed, juried fair and networking event focuses on community oriented primary care research and innovative approaches that improve community health. 

The study, titled “Meta Salud Diabetes: A pilot study of a community health worker intervention to prevent cardiovascular disease and its complications among Hispanic adults with diabetes,” seeks to determine the clinical outcomes and cardiovascular disease prevention behaviors and risk factors among Hispanic patients with diabetes living in Tucson and Nogales, Arizona.

“This study is a first step to provide information to develop large-scale public health interventions in Arizona to reduce cardiovascular disease disparities among Hispanic patients with diabetes,” said Tomas Nuño, PhD, assistant professor of public health practice and translational research at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health – Phoenix and the Department of Emergency Medicine at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson, and the principal investigator of the study. 

The 13-week program at the El Rio Community Health Center – El Pueblo in Tucson, addressed diabetes and cardiovascular disease support groups; cardiovascular disease prevention education with a focus on diet and physical activity; and activity groups, such as walking to increase physical activity and build informal social networks to help prevent and manage chronic disease and foster emotional wellbeing leading to behavioral change maintenance.  

Dr. Nuño received a $437,000 diversity supplement grant (R01HL125996-03S1) in 2017 for the three-year research project. The funding is part of $2.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (R01HL125996), awarded to the UA Zuckerman College of Public Health in 2015. The larger study focuses on the prevention of cardiovascular disease and its complications among adults with diabetes in Northern Mexico. It includes a multi-site randomized-controlled trial to evaluate tools and practices to decrease cardiovascular disease and complications in the population with diabetes.

Dr. Nuño’s study uses the methods developed in the parent project and works with community health workers in Arizona to address the needs of the Hispanic population with diabetes in Tucson and Nogales, Arizona. The study involved a sample size of 100 people (50 subjects in Tucson and 50 in Nogales).

“Our study in Sonora, Mexico, provides important research and implementation strategies for the U.S. population and Latino population in particular. Dr. Nuño's builds upon the infrastructure and lessons learned from our research to date,” said Cecilia Rosales, MD, MS, interim associate dean of community engagement and outreach and associate dean of Phoenix programs at the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health and principal investigator of the Sonora, Mexico, study.

The binational project team members from the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health include, Ben Aceves, Jill de Zapien, Andrea Contreras, Maia Ingram, Araceli Loera, Abraham Ocejo, Cecila Rosales, Sheila Soto, Maria Rocio Torres, and UA student volunteers from the Juntos Por La Salud Mobile Health Unit program; from El Colegio de Sonora: Elsa Cornejo and Catalina Denman; and El Rio Community Health Center: Dulce Monaño and Lorena Verdugo.

Congratulations to the binational team! 

The University of Arizona