Seva Foundation A Solution in Sight.

The Diabetes Talking Circles Online Tutorial


We invite you to utilize this Diabetes Talking Circle Online Tutorial as a tool in diabetes education, treatment and prevention in your tribal community.

All the materials you'll need are available for downloading, free of charge! Start with the "Talking Circles Facilitator's Manual" to learn how the program works.

What it is
The Diabetes Talking Circles Model is a science-based, 12-session curriculum that combines Native American traditions with the current scientific understanding of diabetes.

How we did it
The Diabetes Talking Circles model was designed by Felicia Hodge, Dr.P.H.; Betty Geishert-Cantrell, MSSW - Center for American Indian Research & Education; Arnell Hinkle, RD, MPH - CanFit; and Lorelei De Cora, RN, BSN - Director of Seva Foundation's Diabetes Wellness Program.

Support for this Diabetes Talking Circle Model Website is provided by the Seva Foundation; the Centers for Disease Control, Native Diabetes Wellness Program; and the Robert Wood Johnson Community Health Leadership Program.

In 2002, we successfully completed the Diabetes Talking Circles Research, funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research through a joint partnership with the Center for American Indian Research & Education (originally at the University of Minnesota, and now at University of California, Los Angeles) and the Seva Foundation Native American Diabetes Project.

The research was conducted during the period 1998-2002. Diabetes Talking Circles were tested as a culturally appropriate tool to increase knowledge of diabetes, how it is treated, and the role of nutrition and activity/exercise in relationship to diabetes prevention and treatment. Research data was also collected to determine whether the new knowledge leads to behavior change toward wellness.

Initial sites
The four-year research and education intervention was conducted among American Indian adults living with diabetes or at-risk for diabetes across four Northern Plains reservations:

  • Winnebago Reservation, Nebraska

  • Yankton Sioux Reservation, South Dakota

  • Rosebud Sioux Reservation, South Dakota

  • Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota

What we found out
This project clearly demonstrated a successful culturally appropriate intervention at the four reservations. Statistically significant changes were observed in several areas:

  • Fatalistic attitudes toward diabetes were significantly reduced.

  • Diabetes knowledge was improved in several areas.

  • Knowledge improved significantly regarding dietary fat.

  • Dietary fat and fiber knowledge increased among the male intervention group members.

  • Exercise knowledge increase significantly.

  • Diabetes treatment compliance improved.

  • Exercise increased in frequency.

  • Obesity levels (BMI) were reduced.

Culturally appropriate interventions:
This study is important, as it demonstrates the strength and success of a culturally appropriate intervention on diabetes for American Indians. This science-based study changed fatalistic beliefs and created an acceptable educational program that was readily adopted as an empowerment step toward the prevention and control of diabetes among American Indians living with diabetes or at-risk for diabetes. The use of traditional circles, group support, and traditional food (including buffalo meat) in a spiritual milieu, created an acceptable way for participants to express their feelings, receive support, absorb information, and strengthen traditional ties — all toward the goal of the prevention, treatment and control of diabetes.

Seva Foundation
With support from Seva Foundation, one of the key organizations in a joint partnership, we are currently conducting the Diabetes Talking Circles training across the twelve Indian Health Services Areas with:

  • IHS Diabetes Control Teams;

  • SDPI Tribal Diabetes Programs;

  • Tribal CHR Programs; and

  • Tribal Colleges participating in diabetes/wellness initiatives at these same sites.
    • Curriculum Materials
      All the materials you need to lead Diabetes Talking Circles are available for downloading — free of charge. Download materials .



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