Trust and Communication Improve Diabetes Outcomes in African Americans

A grantee highlights pioneering work on the cost-effectiveness and preventive value of high-quality relationships between doctor and patient at the 2012 APHA meeting. 10/29/2012

As a little girl, Monica Peek often went to the doctor with her grandmother, Mae Reather Long. On those visits to the clinic, she recalls, “my grandmother, who had diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol, would listen patiently to her doctor’s advice. He would advise her to ‘eat healthy.’  She would politely answer that she had been doing so, and that was that.” Her grandmother’s physician didn’t realize that “yes, I’m eating healthy” most likely meant vegetables prepared southern style—with smoked ham.  Or that Peek’s grandmother really wanted more time to discuss her medications and how to take them, but she was afraid to ask.

At a presentation at the October 2012 American Public Health Association (APHA) meeting, Peek, who is now an MD, MPH, and diabetes specialist, taught other health care providers how to avoid this type of disconnect with their patients and harness the tremendous power of culturally appropriate communication.  Peek’s research, along with her award-winning film on shared decision making (SDM) between physician and patient and her ongoing work at the South Side diabetes project in Chicago, grew, in part, out of those early lessons learned by her grandmother’s side. Read more