A unique intervention-based education and exercise program tackling diabetes that began in the QUT Health Clinics has improved the lives of participants and won a number of awards on health service improvement.
The partnership program between Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH) has been operating for three years, and is now expanding, with the 10-week program recently made available to North Lakes residents on Brisbane’s north side.
The program, built around empowering Type-2 diabetes patients to self-manage the condition, takes a multidisciplinary approach incorporating dietetics, social work, podiatry, exercise physiology, optometry, nursing and psychology.
According to RBWH Dietitian and QUT Nutrition and Dietetics Clinic coordinator, Andrea Cawte, this approach has resulted in great outcomes for patients. The majority of participants in the initial program have been able to come off of RBWH’s diabetes wait lists altogether—representing a financial savings to the healthcare system.
“Participants get high-level advice on eating better and how to exercise even when they have conditions that may make exercise challenging, because they are assessed, supervised and encouraged by QUT exercise physiology students,” Ms Cawte said.
“Psychologists guide patients through goal setting and coping skills, diabetes educators address medication and self-management and social workers assist with other issues that can commonly arise throughout their journey.”
Participant engagement was very positive, with more than 90% attending at least five of the eight sessions. This resulted in statistically significant reductions in body weight, waist circumference, HbA1c and fasting glucose, as well as improvements in psychological outcomes and diet quality.
And while proving to be of benefit to patients and health services, the program is also helping to train student healthcare professionals through QUT’s Health Clinics.
QUT Director of Clinical Services and Education, Robert Mullins, said the program is a great example of how effective partnerships between hospitals and universities can lead to better patient outcomes.
“It really gives our future health care providers the chance to put their skills into action in a clinical environment,” Mr Mullins said.
“As a result, people with diabetes for years or even decades who never really understood their condition properly, have gone on to lose significant weight, get their fasting glucose and their cholesterol levels under control and reported feeling better and more positive overall,” he said.
The partnership between QUT and RBWH provides a model for future health care reform, demonstrating a cost-efficient, sustainable and clinically effective pathway to care.