Original Research

Measuring the impact of community-based interventions on type 2 diabetes control during the COVID-19 pandemic in Cape Town – A mixed methods study

Neal J. David, Graham Bresick, Natasha Moodaley, Klaus B. von Pressentin
South African Family Practice | Vol 64, No 1 : Part 3| a5558 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/safp.v64i1.5558 | © 2022 Neal J. David, Graham Bresick, Natasha Moodaley, Klaus B. von Pressentin | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 April 2022 | Published: 18 August 2022

About the author(s)

Neal J. David, Division of Family Medicine, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa; and, Metro District Health Services, Western Cape Department of Health, Cape Town, South Africa
Graham Bresick, Division of Family Medicine, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Natasha Moodaley, Division of Family Medicine, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Klaus B. von Pressentin, Division of Family Medicine, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

Abstract

Background: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic exposed the risks of poorly controlled noncommunicable diseases, especially in persons with diabetes. The pandemic outbreak in Cape Town, South Africa, required a rapid reorganisation of primary care services. Community-based measures were activated to ensure continuity of care by implementing home delivery of medication by community health workers. After five months of de-escalated chronic care, observations at an urban primary care facility suggested that noncommunicable disease patients had not overtly decompensated despite suspending regular in-facility services. This study attempted to understand what impact de-escalation of regular care and escalation of community-based interventions had on type 2 diabetes patients at this primary care facility.

Methods: A mixed methods study design was used, consisting of data captured prospectively from diabetic patients who returned to the facility for routine care post-lockdown, as well as qualitative interviews to ascertain patients’ experiences of the home delivery service.

Results: The data set included 331 (72%) patients in the home delivery group and 130 (28%) in the non-home delivery group. Regression analysis demonstrated a statistically significant relationship between home delivery and improved diabetic control (p < 0.01), although this may be because of confounding factors. The mean glycaemic control was suboptimal both at baseline and post-lockdown in both groups. Interviews with 83 study patients confirmed the acceptability of the home delivery intervention.

Conclusion: The rapid reorganisation of primary care services illustrates the versatility of a functional community-oriented primary care service, although not fully developed yet, to adapt to emerging community healthcare needs in the pandemic era.


Keywords

COVID-19; type 2 diabetes; home delivery of medication; glycaemic control; primary care; district healthcare; community health workers; mixed methods

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