Diabetes study signs up nearly 5,000 volunteers in a year

A groundbreaking health research study that aims to help prevent people developing Type 2 diabetes has reached its first anniversary and seen 4,500 Norfolk people volunteer to take part.

The research programme, known as the UEA-IFG Study, is being delivered by multi-professional teams from the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, and the University of East Anglia (UEA) and assisted by 36 GP surgeries across central Norfolk. The study’s success comes in the run up to World Diabetes Day on November 14.

Diabetes is one of the biggest public health challenges facing the country and in England it is estimated 2 million people have the condition. About 80% of those with diabetes in England have Type 2 Diabetes. In Norfolk there are about 30,000 people with Diabetes and about 2,500 are newly diagnosed each year.

Type 2 Diabetes is most commonly diagnosed in adults over the age of 40, although increasingly it is appearing in young people and young adults. Glucose builds up in the blood, as in people with Type 1 Diabetes, but symptoms appear more gradually and the diabetes may not be diagnosed for some years.

In a first for the UK, the UEA-IFG research programme has so far screened 3,767 volunteers living in North, Central and South Norfolk. Study participants undergo a simple blood test to check the level of glucose in their blood. The study is supported by the Eastern England Diabetes Local Research Network.

Higher than normal glucose (known as Impaired Fasting Glucose or IFG) could mean they are in a “pre-diabetes” phase and are more likely to develop Type 2 Diabetes. 143 people have been randomised to the study and 38 of them were diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes as a result.

The team of diabetes prevention facilitators has delivered 64 education sessions that are designed to help people who are at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes to adopt lifestyle changes that could help prevent them developing the condition. Feedback from study volunteers has been very positive.

Feedback from study participants includes comments such as: “Conducted in a pleasant and informative way. Nice to feel others will be supportive. I feel motivated to make lifestyle changes. Informative; eye-opener. Makes me more motivated. I really enjoyed talking about cooking meals and ways of reducing fat.”

Study chief investigator and NNUH consultant diabetologist Professor Mike Sampson said: ““We are all very grateful for the enthusiasm and commitment we have had from the participants in this project – it has been very impressive. We have managed to screen 3,767 people so far, of whom 143 have been randomised into the project from all over Norfolk. We have been very pleased with how the project has gone overall, and would like to thank all of those who have helped to make this a success.”

How the UEA-IFG study works:

• People living in north, central and south Norfolk and who are at risk of Type 2 Diabetes can volunteer for the screening programme. At risk means aged between 45-70 with one or more of the following: a BMI greater than 25, an immediate family member with a history of diabetes, a history of coronary disease or had diabetes during pregnancy.
• Volunteers make an appointment to undergo a simple fasting blood test and some base line measurements (height, weight etc) at the Clinical Research and Trials Unit at UEA in Norwich.
• All participants receive their results by letter and most are expected to have normal blood glucose. Researchers expect that 11 per cent will be in the “pre-diabetes” phase and three per cent will be newly diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.
• If found to be in the pre-diabetes phase or newly diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, a repeat test will be done to confirm the first set of results they will be asked by a Diabetes Prevention Facilitator, a senior nurse, dietitian or nutrition scientist, if they want to take part in the lifestyle intervention.
• Volunteers are then randomly allocated to a control group, who will receive a one off education session, or an intervention group where the aim will be for people to achieve seven per cent weight loss through a better diet and increasing physical activity levels. These volunteers will receive education from healthcare professionals to help improve diet and exercise levels in order to see if preventative changes to their lifestyle can help reduce the risk of them developing Type 2 Diabetes.
• The role of the volunteer mentors who have Type 2 Diabetes will be to encourage and support study participants through the programme and to maintain diet and exercise targets.

For more information and if you would like to take part, please phone 01603 597300 or visit www.uea-ifg.nhs.uk

Wednesday 11th of November 2009 10:00:06 AM