Objective: Intensive lifestyle interventions reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes in populations at highest risk, but staffing levels are usually unable to meet the challenge of delivering effective prevention strategies to a very large at-risk population. Training volunteers with existing type 2 diabetes to support healthcare professionals deliver lifestyle interventions is an attractive option. Methods: We identified 141 973 people at highest risk of diabetes in the East of England, screened 12 778, and randomized 1764 into a suite of type 2 diabetes prevention and screen detected type 2 diabetes management trials. A key element of the program tested the value of volunteers with type 2 diabetes, trained to act as diabetes prevention mentors (DPM) when added to an intervention arm delivered by healthcare professionals trained to support participant lifestyle change. Results: We invited 9951 people with type 2 diabetes to become DPM and 427 responded (4.3%). Of these, 356 (83.3%) were interviewed by phone, and of these 131 (36.8%) were interviewed in person. We then appointed 104 of these 131 interviewed applicants (79%) to the role (mean age 62 years, 55% (n=57) male). All DPMs volunteered for a total of 2895 months, and made 6879 telephone calls to 461 randomized participants. Seventy-six (73%) DPMs volunteered for at least 6 months and 66 (73%) for at least 1 year. Discussion: Individuals with type 2 diabetes can be recruited, trained and retained as DPM in large numbers to support a group-based diabetes prevention program delivered by healthcare professionals. This volunteer model is low cost, and accesses the large type 2 diabetes population that shares a lifestyle experience with the target population. This is an attractive model for supporting diabetes prevention efforts.
- type 2 diabetes prevention