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Study to Assess Use of Talking Circles to Help Native Americans with Diabetes

Creighton University School of Nursing has received a $207,000, two-year grant from the National Institutes of Health to address the growing problem of type 2 diabetes mellitus  in adult American Indians.

Creighton principal investigator Marlene Wilken, R.N., Ph.D., will work with health care providers at the Omaha (Nebraska) and Rosebud Sioux (South Dakota) reservations to determine whether Talking Circles – a powerful American Indian tradition similar to many modern-day therapy groups– can help American Indians better self-manage and control their diabetes.

“We believe that using culturally appropriate Talking Circles will result in better adherence and outcomes for diabetes management by American Indians than diabetes education in a classroom setting,” Wilken said.

For the study, all participants who meet the study criteria will be selected randomly. The experimental group will include 20 individuals from the Omaha Tribe who will receive the culturally appropriate Talking Circles intervention. Twenty participants from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe will serve as the control group and receive diabetes education in a regular classroom setting. This process will be repeated the second year.

Type 2 diabetes is associated with obesity and other lifestyle factors and has become a major health issue for many men, women and even young adults in the U.S.  Americans Indians are at particular risk

Wilken noted that American Indians have the highest diabetes death rate of any ethnic group in Nebraska and South Dakota. In Nebraska, they have a diabetes death rate of 285.4 per 100,000 people, more than twice the national average.