Translating an exercise program for adults at high risk for type 2 diabetes to the community

Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is a chronic disease with serious health implications (e.g., cardiovascular disease) that can be prevented with lifestyle changes. Lifestyle-based interventions are particularly needed in the community to help reduce the incidence of chronic disease in Canadian adults, and are critical for preventing T2D. 

For example, the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) is a lifestyle change program that promotes healthy eating and physical activity. This program translates to a 58% risk reduction for developing T2D for individuals who maintain 150 min/week of moderate physical activity and lose 7% of their body weight. However, the DPP is less sustainable in community settings because it is costly and lengthy (~12 months long). Diabetes prevention programs are needed that can be implemented and scaled up in the community for adults at high risk of developing T2D.

Towards the pursuit of preventing T2D with brief-behavioural interventions, the Health and Exercise Psychology Laboratory at UBC Okanagan developed a diabetes prevention program called Small Steps for Big Changes, which has proven effective in enhancing health outcomes of low-active adults at risk for diabetes and, excitingly, demonstrates long-term physical activity adherence.

Given the promising findings, knowledge translation research is needed to ensure successful research uptake of Small Steps for Big Changes into the community. The aim of Dr. Ivanova’s research will be to translate this evidence-based exercise intervention for use in the community with adults who are at risk for T2D.

Small Steps for Big Changes will be implemented in a YMCA centre (Kelowna, BC) to ensure that this evidence-based program is integrated in a sustainable manner and that it adequately serves the community. The Knowledge-to-Action (KtA) framework will be used to guide this knowledge translation effort, and the results of this research will be the development of knowledge products, namely manuals for Small Steps for Big Changes, a two-day train-the-trainer workshop, and audiovisual training materials that will be used to train the knowledge users how to deliver Small Steps for Big Changes. 

Dr. Ivanova will co-lead the sharing of these results, alongside research end users, guiding the path for sustained use of Small Steps for Big Changes at the YMCA and for feasible continued scale-up.