SAIL Supports Evaluation of Major Public Health Intervention for Diabetes Prevention

The All-Wales Diabetes Prevention Programme (AWDPP), led by Public Health Wales, offers targeted and locally delivered support to people who are at an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, with the aim of preventing them from developing the condition.

The national programme invites eligible people from General Practices (GP) in areas where the programme is being rolled-out to attend a brief 30-minute intervention with a trained Health Care Support Worker. At this appointment the health implications associated with type 2 diabetes are discussed and how to reduce the risk of developing the condition by making changes to diet and becoming more physically active.

Eligible people are those identified as being at risk through a simple blood test, called an HbA12c test, which measures a person’s average blood sugar (glucose) levels over the last two to three months. A year after participation in the intervention people return for a follow-up test to determine whether they have successfully reduced their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by following the advice given.

Public Health Wales reports that more than 200,000 people in Wales are living with diabetes, with nine out of ten having type 2 diabetes, as opposed to type 1. Type 2 diabetes is a serious, sometimes lifelong condition. It is a leading cause of sight loss and a major contributor to kidney failure, heart attack and stroke. Type 2 diabetes has a severe impact on individuals and their families. There is also a financial cost: the treatment of type 2 diabetes accounts for around 10% of the annual NHS budget.

Unlike type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes can be prevented. Evidence suggests that, by supporting people to make lifestyle changes, over half of type 2 diabetes cases could be prevented. Developed nationally by Public Health Wales and delivered locally by dedicated healthcare support workers and dietetic leads working in primary care, the AWDPP supports people who are at an increased risk of type 2 diabetes to make changes to their diet and to be more physically active.

SAIL Databank is supporting the ongoing evaluation of the programme’s roll-out. The project is using Primary Care GP data held within SAIL to evaluate uptake and outcome of the national programme.

In collaboration with Swansea, Aberystwyth and Bangor University Consortium, Public Health Wales have used data held within SAIL to investigate uptake of AWDPP. This includes analysis of the delivery and implementation of AWDPP, exploration of how uptake varies across demographics, and calculating the cost of the initial roll out of programme. The report is available here:

Although not yet concluded, Public Health Wales is also using the SAIL Databank to investigate the impact of AWDPP on the risk of developing type 2 diabetes against compared to those who have not been offered the intervention. This outcome evaluation is expected to be published in late 2025.

Senior Research and Evaluation Officer at Public Health Wales, James Bailey, said, “Our evaluation of the AWDPP programme has been designed within the SAIL Databank, who have played an important role in informing how key data can be recorded in primary care, and enabling secure access to data for our evaluators.  This valuable data resource enables us to better understand the uptake and outcomes for people in Wales, and the impact of the AWDPP programme.”

SAIL Databank’s Analytical Services Team supports the project with data preparation and analytical support, as well as provisioning data refreshes and ensuring safe outputs through SAIL’s statistical disclosure control process.

Research Officer at SAIL Databank, Dr Hywel Turner Evans, added, “Working with Public Health Wales on the AWDPP enables us at the SAIL Databank to impact on the health of people with an increased risk of type-2 diabetes. This project is another great example of how working collaboratively across organisations allows linked data from the SAIL Databank to inform public health interventions and improve the future for people in Wales.“

These services provided by SAIL teams is supporting the evaluation of the project, which will help to determine whether the programme has been a success.

BBC News reported, on 14th November 2023, that the ‘prevention programme in parts of Wales identifies those at higher risk, and refers them to a healthcare worker to help make lifestyle changes. Since its launch in June last year, it has helped more than 3,000 people.’

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