Collaborative implementation of a community-based exercise intervention with a partnering rural American Indian community


BACKGROUND: The prevalence and socioeconomic burden of childhood obesity and diabetes has increased rapidly in the United States in the last 30 years. American Indians have the highest prevalence of type 2 diabetes among newly diagnosed youth in the country. Contributing factors include environmental, behavioral, and genetic components. Some American Indian tribal communities have explored innovative ways to combat this epidemic including collaborations with academic centers on community-based research. METHOD: From 2012 to 2017, the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma partnered on a National Institutes of Health-funded project to determine if financial incentives would elicit an increase in physical activity in Native youth. This was a community-based behavioral intervention for overweight or obese American Indian youth ages 11-20 living in a rural community at risk for developing diabetes. RESULTS: Tribal leaders and staff identified culturally appropriate strategies to aid implementation of the trial in their community. Their identified implementation strategies helped standardize the study in order to maintain study integrity. The mutually agreed strategies included co-review of the study by tribal and University research review boards (but designation of the Choctaw Nation review board as the "Board of Record"), training of community-based staff on research ethics and literacy, standardization of the informed consent process by videotaping all study information, creation of a viable and culturally appropriate timeline for study implementation, adapting tribal wellness center operations to accommodate youth, and development of effective two-way communication through training sessions, on-site coordination, and bi-monthly conference calls. CONCLUSION: In an effort to partner collectively on a randomized clinical research trial to combat childhood diabetes, tribal leaders and staff implemented strategies that resulted in a culturally appropriate and organized community-based behavioral intervention research project.

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