Pre-diabetes, characterized by glucose levels that are above normal but below the diagnostic criteria for diabetes, is an increasingly common condition affecting approximately 54 million U.S. adults. African Americans are disproportionately affected by pre-diabetes and experience high rates of diabetes-associated morbidity and mortality including damage to the circulatory system, kidneys, and nervous system. Patients with pre-diabetes who increase their physical activity and improve their diets have reduced risk of developing diabetes. Psychological distress negatively influences the course of the disease by increasing deleterious health behaviors;preventing scheduling and maintenance of positive behavior change;and stimulating HPA- axis activation and dysregulation, which may have a direct impact on insulin resistance and glucose metabolism. African Americans may have increased exposure to stress and increased vulnerability to adverse stress-related health outcomes like diabetes, because of their unique history, socio-cultural experiences, and societal position in the U.S. Helping individuals to reduce stress and to increase healthy coping strategies may enhance conventional diabetes prevention efforts, especially among African Americans. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), a mind-body practice with a wide range of health benefits, has been shown to result in statistically significant reductions in psychological stress and anxiety in randomized, controlled studies. Mindfulness training is cost-effective in comparison with other small-group or individualized programs, and can be taught safely and effectively by well-trained instructors. There is little research, and no randomized, controlled trials of MBSR as a treatment for individuals with pre-diabetes. There is also little research on the acceptability of MBSR program to a pre-diabetic subgroup of African Americans, or on the acceptability of an MBSR program for a general population of African Americans. Overall goals of this exploratory pilot study are to study the potential efficacy of a diabetes prevention education program that includes training in mindfulness-based stress reduction for pre-diabetic African Americans.
Specific Aims are 1) to determine the feasibility of developing a clinical trial to compare the effectiveness of a mindfulness-based diabetes prevention program (treatment group) with a conventional diabetes prevention program (control group) in improving glucose metabolism in pre-diabetic African American adults;2) to identify relevant physiological and psychological secondary outcomes associated with a mindfulness-based, educational self-care program in African Americans with pre-diabetes;3) to assess the acceptability and cultural relevance of MBSR for pre-diabetic African Americans via a post-intervention qualitative study, to include interviews of participants, dropouts, and instructors;and 4) to identify, and find solutions for, problems in conducting a well-powered clinical trial to assess the efficacy of a mindfulness-based diabetes prevention program in improving glucose metabolism in pre-diabetic African-Americans.

Public Health Relevance

This project will investigate the acceptability, feasibility, and efficacy of a mind-body intervention, Mindfulness- Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), as an adjunct to health education in reducing impaired glucose metabolism in pre-diabetic African Americans. We predict that reduction of stress and improvement in coping resources through training in diabetes education enhanced by MBSR training will positively influence health behaviors and physiological responses to stress, and thus improve pre-diabetic state.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Center for Complementary & Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZAT1-JH (28))
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Glowa, John R
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University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Physical Medicine & Rehab
Schools of Medicine
Chapel Hill
United States
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