News Release| Blue Ribbon Award; Cal State L.A.

Note to news directors and editors: CSULA Professor Ming Fang Wang is available for interviews. She is fluent in English and Chinese, and can be reached directly at (323) 343-4727. 

Diabetes research reaches out to vulnerable population

CSULA professor’s study focuses on older diabetic
Chinese Americans in Southern California

Los Angeles, CA – Millions of Americans know they have type 2 diabetes, one of the most chronic and debilitating diseases. According to the American Diabetes Association, “Many more are unaware they are at high risk.”

To boost awareness, and presumably reduce risk, among elders in the Chinese community, Ming Fang Wang, an assistant professor of nursing at Cal State L.A., crafted a research project to engage the community in developing a clearer understanding of the disease and how it works.

“Elder Chinese,” Wang said, “are of particular interest because of limited research data, their vulnerability, and the increasing prevalence of diabetes among Chinese Americans.”

Wang’s community-based participatory research, entitled “Self-Care Practices, Health Beliefs, and Attitudes of Older Diabetic Chinese Americans,” was recently selected as a Blue Ribbon Award semi-finalist by the CSU Center for Community Engagement. The research project was presented in March at the 4th CSU Conference on Community-Based Research. The forum explored how campuses and communities can collaborate to address significant social issues, promote learning and development, and foster relevant research.

According to Wang, community feedback has shown that this pilot study increased the awareness of and interests in diabetes research among elder Chinese Americans in the two participating communities, Sunny Day Adult Health Care in El Monte and Joyful Adult Day Health Care Center in Rowland Heights.

“This suggests that minority vulnerable populations, such as elder Chinese Americans, are interested and willing to participate in health studies. They should be offered such opportunities,” said Wang.

The study explored self-care practices, lifestyles, attitudes, and health beliefs of Chinese Americans with type 2 diabetes. Wang adds that the results will be used to develop education programs to help elderly Chinese manage their type 2 diabetes. The research findings were first published in the December 2009 edition (vol. 32, no. 3) of the Journal of Health and Human Services Administration.

Wang, along with Nursing Associate Professor Gail Washington, are preparing to share their strategies with other researchers. CSULA nursing undergraduate students—Suirong Li and Jan Cheung—also contributed to the original research project, assisting with interviews, transcriptions, translations and dissemination.

With more than 35 years combined teaching and professional nursing experience, Wang has extensive clinical experience in the areas of medical-surgical and critical care, as well as nursing administration. At Cal State L.A., she teaches both graduate and undergraduate courses, including nursing education, nursing leadership and management, medical-surgical nursing, pathophysiology, and physical assessment. For the last two years, she has also participated in a pilot project examining cultural health beliefs and their related effects on the health behaviors of Chinese, Korean and Hispanic breast-cancer survivors.

What is type 2 diabetes? In type 2 diabetes, either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin. Insulin is necessary for the body to be able to use glucose for energy. When you eat food, the body breaks down all of the sugars and starches into glucose, which is the basic fuel for the cells in the body. Insulin takes the sugar from the blood into the cells. When glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, it can lead to diabetes complications. (source: American Diabetes Association)

What is community-based research (CBR)? CBR is a collaborative approach to research that equitably involves all partners throughout the research process and recognizes the unique strengths that each brings. CBR begins with a research topic deemed important by the community, has the aim of combining knowledge with action and achieving social change.... (Adapted from the WK Kellogg Foundation Community Health Scholars Program)

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