A community project

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University of Otago clinical physiotherapist Chris Higgs.

SOUTHLANDERS over the age of 35 who have Type 2 diabetes are being recruited to join a friendly, non-judgemental community exercise programme (CEP).

The programme has been run by the University of Otago School of Physiotherapy in Dunedin for the past nine years, but clinical lead for the CEP Chris Higgs said he was bringing it to Southland for the first time this year.

Mr Higgs and fellow researchers would be using the CEP to undertake a random control trial in Invercargill and Dunedin involving about 220 people.

“We need about 110 participants in each city.”

Half those recruited in each city would be randomly selected for the 12-week CEP, while the other half would receive “usual care plus education”.

“To test how effective [the CEP] is, we need to compare it to usual care. Participants will have a 50-50 change of being allocated to either group.”

The three primary objectives were to measure changes in the blood results of the diabetics involved over time, to do a cost-effective analysis to see if the CEP saved money compared with usual care, and to see if the CEP was able to be transferred to other communities throughout the country.

The trial would also be a free comprehensive package of care for both groups of participants, involving a specific diabetes nurse educator, a dietitian, a pharmacist and a pediatrist.

“Because people living with diabetes usually also have multi-morbidity, which means they might also have problems with their weight, problems with their heart, problems with their feet.”

However, Mr Higgs said the CEP was also about socialising and having fun.

“People come for the social side as well. Often that’s more of the motivation – the exercise is just the icing on the cake.”

Project manager Bonnie Scarth said previous CEPs had resulted in participants forming closely knit support groups.

“It’s become its own little family. The class has helped support some people through some big life events. Multi-morbidity can be quite isolating, but they find that motivation and support through the social connection.”

The first of three 12-week CEPs to be held in Invercargill at the Pacific Islanders Advisory and Cultural Trust Hall on Bowmont St on Tuesday and Thursday mornings will start on April 17.

Study participants can be referred by their GP or contact the research administrator by phoning 479 4979, or emailing dcep.physio@otago.ac.nz

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