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Dr. Elizabeth Walker Speaks at 7th Annual Harriet MacKay Lecture

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

At the seventh annual Harriet MacKay Lecture on October 28, Elizabeth Walker, Ph.D., RN Professor of Medicine, Epidemiology and Population Health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, delivered the research-based lecture titled ,“Adherence Research in Diabetes: From Paradox to Paradigm.” The lecture, organized by the Joslin’s Center for Innovation in Diabetes Education, is named after Harriet MacKay, one of the first diabetes educators who worked under Dr. Elliott P. Joslin and formed the basis for certified diabetes educators (CDE) today.

The lecture was centered on the question: how can diabetes clinicians and providers assess if their patients are adhering to their diabetes management or not?

Dr. Walker discussed several studies she conducted and one in particular in New York City, which employed health educators to provide diabetes patients advice regarding medication adherence, healthy eating and physical activity. These health educators were from the same community and spoke the same language as the diabetes patients. This study resulted in decreased A1C levels due to behavioral counseling/ interventions according to Dr. Walker.

Dr. Walker said these low cost measures can be applied in any community and that the educators do not need to be healthcare professionals, as the health educators in this study did not come from a healthcare background and were trained for the study. Furthermore, she urged the audience to “find the best fit for success” and to “think about what’s missing” when they are approaching their patients.

As a behavioral scientist, Dr. Walker outlined the differences between behavioral science, which relies on systematic analysis and investigation of human behavior through controlled and naturalistic observations to understand people’s actions, and decision science, which utilizes a systematic approach to characterize people’s decisions and behaviors.

Dr. Walker brought her lecture full circle by stating that diabetes clinicians and providers can use behavioral science to break away from old paradigms within diabetes management, and use behavioral interventions within clinical care to create different outcomes in a team based setting. 

Page last updated: July 30, 2014