The USC Westside Center for Diabetes, under the direction of Anne Peters, MD, CDE, professor of medicine, Keck School of Medicine of USC, has been awarded a $1.25 million grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust to create an educational program for underserved adults living with Type 1 diabetes.

The grant, to be awarded over a three-year period, will fund a project called STEPP-UP (Specialized Technology Education for Pumps & Pens in Underserved Populations with Diabetes). A curriculum will be developed to teach lower literacy adult patients who are currently injecting insulin how to use insulin pumps and pens now available to them through the Affordable Care Act.

While the pumps and pens can help patients better manage their diabetes, the learning curve is steep, and follow-up is recommended to ensure proper use of the pumps for optimal results.

The program aims to reduce health disparities among the underserved, and to measure the increase or decrease of severe hypoglycemia and other emergency conditions experienced by Type 1 patients as they transition to pumps and pens.

Peters and her team are currently recruiting focus groups to review existing educational materials and develop new materials aimed at low literacy groups, in English and Spanish. The timeline calls for STEPP-UP tools to be completed by June and a two-year clinical trial of 100 patients to begin in July to evaluate the tools and curriculum.

— Leslie Ridgeway