Research & Program Areas

Alliance to Reduce Disparities in Diabetes

Health care disparities refer to differences or inequities in access to and outcomes of health services. In the United States, nearly 24 million people—almost 8% of the U.S. population—are living with diabetes. To address the growing problem of health care disparities in the context of type 2 diabetes, the Merck Foundation—the philanthropic arm of Merck & Co., Inc.—launched the Alliance to Reduce Disparities in Diabetes (Alliance) in 2009. CMCD was selected as the National Program Office for the five sites participating in the Alliance.

The Alliance addressed diabetes disparities and enhanced the quality of prevention and management services through work with national, regional and community partners to develop programs that:

  • Applied proven, community-based and collaborative approaches to address health care disparities affecting low-income and underserved adult populations
  • Enhanced patient and health care provider communication, mobilized community partners and assisted health care organizations to decrease disparities in diabetes care
  • Disseminated important findings to aid in the development of comprehensive prevention and management programs
  • Increased public awareness of health care disparities and diabetes
  • Promoted collaboration and information exchange to strengthen the efforts of stakeholders and organizations around the country that share the vision and goals of the Alliance

Alliance Program Sites

Camden, NJ:
Camden Citywide Diabetes Collaborative

The Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers is an organization that seeks to improve the quality, capacity, and accessibility of the health care system for vulnerable, chronically ill residents of Camden. The Camden Citywide Diabetes Collaborative made use of the Coalition’s existing relationships and project strategies to pursue citywide coordination of services and care for city residents with diabetes. The project sought to fundamentally change how providers, office staff, and community agencies in Camden care for city residents with diabetes by building an accessible, high-quality, coordinated, and data-driven health care delivery system with a strong primary care base. Learn more.

Chicago, IL:
Improving Diabetes Care and Outcomes on the South Side of Chicago

The University of Chicago developed this program to improve the quality of care and outcomes of people with diabetes on the South Side of Chicago. This program was deeply dedicated to addressing the diabetes disparities on the South Side of Chicago. Many South Side residents are African-American and have significant socioeconomic challenges. This program sought to coordinate community clinics, an academic medical center, and community-based organizations to provide comprehensive diabetes management and care in a sustainable way. Learn more.

Dallas, TX:
The Diabetes Equity Project

The Diabetes Equity Project (DEP) leveraged the extensive community partnership among Baylor Health Care System (BHCS), the BHCS Office of Health Equity, the HealthTexas Provider Network Office of Community Health Improvement, Project Access Dallas, Genesis Medical Foundation, Dallas-area charitable clinics, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas to reduce disparities in diabetes care for underserved people with diabetes in Dallas County. The DEP extended the BHCS commitment to health equity by working to improve both access to and quality of care delivered to low-income, minority, uninsured and underserved people with diabetes. Learn more.

Memphis, TN:
Diabetes for Life

Led by the Common Table Health Alliance (formerly Healthy Memphis Common Table), a regional health improvement collaborative of community organizations, coalitions, and individuals dedicated to improving the health of people in the greater Memphis area, the Diabetes for Life (DFL) initiative aimed to reduce health disparities among African Americans with Type 2 diabetes. DFL was designed to mobilize community-based practices, educate patients on self-management, engage policy makers, partner with faith-based organizations, and create community awareness of issues associated with disparities in diabetes care. Learn more.

Wind River Reservation, WY:
Reducing Disparities in American Indian Communities

The Eastern Shoshone Tribe of the Wind River Indian Reservation collaborated with the Northern Arapaho Tribe, the Wind River Indian Health Service, the state of Wyoming Department of Health, and Sundance Research Institute. Together, the group created and supported a comprehensive, community-health system partnership to improve outcomes for American Indian people with diabetes and to reduce the substantial health disparities experienced by American Indians. The program approach encompassed individuals, providers, and the overall health system to assist individuals in making lifestyle changes to manage their diabetes, increase the effectiveness of communications between providers and patients, and extend and increase resources through improved coordination and collaboration among diabetes services at the Tribal, federal, and state levels. Learn more.

For more information, contact Dr. Belinda Nelson at


Community, Diabetes

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