Effectiveness of a group diabetes education programme in underserved communities in South Africa: pragmatic cluster randomized control trial

BACKGROUND: Diabetes is an important contributor to the burden of disease in South Africa and prevalence rates as high as 33% have been recorded in Cape Town. Previous studies show that quality of care and health outcomes are poor. The development of an effective education programme should impact on self-care, lifestyle change and adherence to medication; and lead to better control of diabetes, fewer complications and better quality of life. METHODS: Trial design: Pragmatic cluster randomized controlled trialParticipants: Type 2 diabetic patients attending 45 public sector community health centres in Cape TownInterventions: The intervention group will receive 4 sessions of group diabetes education delivered by a health promotion officer in a guiding style. The control group will receive usual care which consists of ad hoc advice during consultations and occasional educational talks in the waiting room.Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of the group diabetes education programmeOutcomes: Primary outcomes: diabetes self-care activities, 5% weight loss, 1% reduction in HbA1c. Secondary outcomes: self-efficacy, locus of control, mean blood pressure, mean weight loss, mean waist circumference, mean HbA1c, mean total cholesterol, quality of lifeRandomisation: Computer generated random numbersBlinding: Patients, health promoters and research assistants could not be blinded to the health centre's allocationNumbers randomized: Seventeen health centres (34 in total) will be randomly assigned to either control or intervention groups. A sample size of 1360 patients in 34 clusters of 40 patients will give a power of 80% to detect the primary outcomes with 5% precision. Altogether 720 patients were recruited in the intervention arm and 850 in the control arm giving a total of 1570.DISCUSSION:The study will inform policy makers and managers of the district health system, particularly in low to middle income countries, if this programme can be implemented more widely.TRIAL REGISTER:Pan African Clinical Trial Registry PACTR201205000380384