Effectiveness of a Diabetes Mellitus and Hypertension-Reducing Intervention Program among Akha Adults in Northern Thailand
Background: Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are a major global challenge, especially for those with poor socioeconomic status. Akha is one of the hill tribes living lower than the national poverty line in northern Thailand that is facing problems with NCDs. This study aimed to assess the effectiveness of a diabetes- (DM) and hypertension (HT)-reducing intervention model. Method: A community-based experimental design was used to assess the effectiveness of a diabetes (DM) and hypertension (HT)-reducing intervention model. The experiment was conducted in two villages in Akha. In each village, 30 persons aged 30 years and over were randomly selected as key participants. Specific training programs on DM and HT prevention and control, healthy food preparation, and cooking demonstrations were provided, including the promotion of regular exercise between September and December 2019. A validated questionnaire, physical examination (checking both blood pressure and HbA1c), and lipid profile were used as indicators of the study. A model was developed and used as a key intervention. A chi-square and t-test were used to detect a significance level of a=0.05. Results: A total of 60 participants were recruited for the study, with 30 in the intervention village and 30 in the control village. Of the participants from the intervention village, 50.0% were female, 43.3% were aged 30–45 years (mean=47.6, SD=9.6), 100.0% were married, 100.0% were Christian, and 90.0% were non-educated, while of the participants from the control village, 50.0% were female, 43.3% were aged 30-45 years (mean= 50.5, SD=10.0), 90.0% were married, 96.7% were Christian, 100.0% were non-educated, and 53.3% were employed daily. The quantity of monosodium glutamate used for cooking (p-value<0.001) and the quantity of cooking oil used during cooking (p-value=0.004) were found to be different between the groups. Comparisons of biomarkers between the control and intervention groups after the intervention showed that triglyceride levels were statistically significant between the groups (p-value=0.048). However, knowledge and attitudes toward DM and HT prevention and care increased. Conclusion: The community-based intervention could improve people health especially in reducing lipid levels among Akha hill tribe adults.
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