Management of type 2 diabetes in China: The Happy Life Club, a pragmatic cluster randomised controlled trial using health coaches

Colette Browning, Anna Chapman, Hui Yang, Shuo Liu, Tuohong Zhang, Joanne C Enticott, Shane A Thomas

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45 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To assess the effectiveness of a coach-led motivational interviewing (MI) intervention in improving glycaemic control, as well as clinical, psychosocial and self-care outcomes of individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) compared with usual care.

Design: Pragmatic cluster randomised controlled trial (RCT).

Setting: Community Health Stations (CHSs) in Fengtai district, Beijing, China.

Participants: Of the 41 randomised CHSs (21 intervention and 20 control), 21 intervention CHSs (372 participants) and 18 control CHSs (296 participants) started participation.

Intervention: Intervention participants received telephone and face-to-face MI health coaching in addition to usual care from their CHS. Control participants received usual care only. Medical fees were waived for both groups.

Outcome measures: Outcomes were assessed at baseline, 6 and 12 months. Primary outcome measure was glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c). Secondary outcomes included a suite of anthropometric, blood pressure (BP), fasting blood, psychosocial and self-care measures.

Results: At 12 months, no differential treatment effect was found for HbA1c (adjusted difference 0.02, 95% CI −0.40 to 0.44, p=0.929), with both treatment and control groups showing significant improvements. However, two secondary outcomes: psychological distress (adjusted difference −2.38, 95% CI −4.64 to −0.12, p=0.039) and systolic BP (adjusted difference −3.57, 95% CI −6.08 to −1.05, p=0.005) were robust outcomes consistent with significant differential treatment effects, as supported in sensitivity analyses. Interestingly, in addition to HbA1c, both groups displayed significant improvements in triglycerides, LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol.

Conclusions: In line with the current Chinese primary healthcare reform, this study is the first large-scale cluster RCT to be implemented within real-world CHSs in China, specifically addressing T2DM. Although a differential treatment effect was not observed for HbA1c, numerous outcomes (including HbA1c) improved in both groups, supporting the establishment of regular, free clinical health checks for people with T2DM in China.

Trial registration number: ISRCTN01010526; Pre-results.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere009319
Pages (from-to)1 - 16
Number of pages16
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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