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Community Outreach Event Inspires a Clinical Research Study at Joslin

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Is there really power in numbers? Or more specifically, is there power in numbers when participating in exercise? The Asian American Diabetes Initiative (AADI) at Joslin Diabetes Center aims to answer this question with their current study, “Adopting a Physically Active Lifestyle through Organized Walk Events among Joslin Clinic Patients.” The purpose of this study is to examine whether walking in groups helps people with diabetes engage in more physical activity and improve their blood glucose levels.

William Hsu, M.D., Director of the Asian Clinic at Joslin, Co-Director of Joslin's Asian American Diabetes Initiative and a Senior Physician at Joslin, and Karen Lau, registered dietitian at Joslin and certified diabetes educator at the AADI, are the primary investigators of this study as well as integral members of the AADI. 

The AADI is composed of four arms, which are clinic, research, outreach programs and educational efforts.  The overarching goals of the AADI are to study diabetes in Asian American populations and then share Joslin’s research findings, provide diabetes education via outreach programs and lastly, create and implement clinical treatment programs for Asian Americans. This Walk Study aligns with the AADI’s larger mission by combining both research and community outreach components.

The Walk Study stems from an event in the summer of 2011 called “Six Steps of Summer,” in which participants along with Joslin staff and volunteers met in Boston Commons to partake in walks every two weeks for six sessions over the course of the summer. This program was designed to help motivate people who were not getting recommended amount of daily exercise.

This community outreach event was successful, with the group growing exponentially by the end of the event, mainly through word of mouth.

“We started off with about with a little more than 10 participants, and after the sixth [session] at the end we had over 100 participants, so it was a very good turnout,” said Lau.  “And after participants came back and told us it was a good experience and that they had fun.”

What was even more encouraging was that this event prompted participants to increase their daily exercise and to experiment with different types of physical activity.

“We gave [participants] a pedometer and they measured the number of steps and we told them the recommended guideline was 10,000 steps, and some participants towards the end showed us their log book and they had 20,000 steps,” explained Lau.  “They were very excited and it actually motivated them to do other exercise, such as swimming and dancing.”

The promising results from the “Six Steps of Summer” program are what inspired the AADI to design and implement a formal clinical research study.

“We saw the big impact [from the “Six Steps of summer” event] and that’s why we were thinking, maybe we could translate it into a research study [to] get some concrete data,” said Lau.

This 12 week Walk Study is a formal clinical research study that has been approved by the Committee on Human Studies, Joslin’s Institutional Review Board (IRB). The walks will be taking place between June 8 and Aug 24.

Participants involved in the study will:

• Wear pedometer daily for 12 weeks
• Aim to walk 10,000 steps per day, or gradually increase the steps by 500 steps per day, every two weeks
• Participate in six consecutive weeks of group walks at Boston Common with other participants and AADI staff and volunteers; and the other 6 weeks will be self-directed walks – depending on randomization, they will either join the group walk during the first six weeks or the last six weeks
• Participants are welcome to bring 1 family member or friend to walk with them if they  so desire to

The Walk Study will occur during this summer and over next summer as well, and then once the study is concluded, the AADI will share their results with the larger diabetes community.

For more information about the Walk Study, please contact Karen Lau at 617-383-4115.

Page last updated: December 21, 2014