Dr. Deborah Ellis Receives $3 Million Award from NIH

Dr. Deborah Ellis has received a $3 million award from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institutes of Health to develop an intervention aimed at improving health outcomes in Black youth with type 1 diabetes. The five-year award, Family mHealth Intervention to Improve Health Outcomes in Black Youth with Type 1 Diabetes: A Multi-Center Randomized Controlled Trial, will test a brief, family intervention delivered through mobile health technology intended to optimize family interactions related to diabetes care. Black adolescents with type 1 diabetes (T1D) face disparities in health outcomes including higher risk for elevated blood glucose levels which can lead to diabetes complications. Few randomized clinical trials have focused on the needs of Black adolescents with T1D.

“Family-based interventions for Black adolescents with type 1 diabetes hold the potential to improve the health of not only the youth, but their caregivers as well,” said Ellis. “eHealth interventions are one way to increase the accessibility of behavioral health interventions to Black families. Our research group has developed and tested a culturally tailored, brief eHealth intervention that provides advice to parents about how to best support their adolescent to complete their daily diabetes care.”

Results of the research team’s recent clinical trial testing an earlier version of the intervention delivered during diabetes clinic visits show promising results. Adolescents whose caregivers received the intervention had improved glycemic control. Ellis and her research team plan to work with community advisory boards to improve the intervention and will deliver it through a mobile health platform accessible via cellphone. They hope to not only help youth improve their diabetes health, but also to positively affect diabetes-related family relationships and to reduce caregiver diabetes-related distress.

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