National Gerontological Nursing Association, Braun Award | Spotlight

Faculty duo garners nursing award for research

Study focuses on older diabetic Chinese Americans within local communities

Diabetes often goes undiagnosed because many of its symptoms seem so harmless. Recent studies indicate that the early detection of diabetes symptoms and treatment can decrease the chance of developing the complications of diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes
• Frequent urination
• Unusual thirst
• Extreme hunger
• Unusual weight loss
• Extreme fatigue and irritability

Type 2 Diabetes*
• Any of the type 1 symptoms
• Frequent infections
• Blurred vision
• Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
• Tingling/numbness in the hands/feet
• Recurring skin, gum, or bladder infections
*Often people with type 2 diabetes have no symptoms

Here’s an online test to find out if one is at risk for diabetes:

(Source: American Diabetes Association)

Picture of nursing professors in front of research poster.
Pictured: (l-r) Gail Washington and Ming Wang-Letzkus.

With a focus on “Understanding Self-Care Practices, Health Beliefs, and Attitudes Among Older Diabetic Chinese Americans,” a community-based research conducted by two Cal State L.A. faculty members recently received the 2010 Judith V. Braun Clinical Research Award for Advancing the Practice of Gerontological Nursing.

CSULA’s Gail Washington, associate professor of nursing, and Ming Wang-Letzkus, assistant professor of nursing, were presented the award at the National Gerontological Nursing Association (NGNA) 25th annual convention in Palm Springs, CA, for their efforts to promote awareness, and evidently reduce risk, of type 2 diabetes among elders in the local Chinese community.

“An estimated 13 million [Americans] have been diagnosed with diabetes, and some 5.2 million are thought to have type 2 diabetes without knowing it,” based on federal statistics reported in a U.S. News & World Report article.

“We are clearly excited and humbled that our colleagues thought our research merited such an award,” said Professor Washington. “This honor validates that strategies are needed to address the prevalence of this chronic and debilitating disease among Chinese Americans, despite the absence of obesity as a common risk factor.”

According to the American Diabetes Association, “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.”

The professors’ study explored self-care practices, lifestyles, attitudes, and health beliefs of elder Chinese Americans with type 2 diabetes in the communities of Rowland Heights and El Monte. The results will be used to explore the need for appropriate interventions and to establish education programs to help elderly Chinese manage their type 2 diabetes.

Chart detailing characteristics of partipants in the faculty research study.

This research is conducted in partnership with the UCLA Center for Vulnerable Populations Research and funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research.

With this award, NGNA recognizes the scientific contribution of a member or team of nurses who have contributed to advancing the practice of gerontological nursing through research.

The goals of the NGNA Convention are to acquire new knowledge and skills relevant to gerontological nursing education, practice, and research; inspire nurses to engage in future endeavors that promote the NGNA’s mission; and network with nursing colleagues and peers on issues of common concern.

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