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April Partner Spotlight

The Minnesota Diabetes and Heart Health Collaborative Uses NDEP Resources to Promote Diabetes Management and the Link between Diabetes and Heart Health

BackgroundMinnesota Diabetes and Heart Health Collaborative

The Minnesota Diabetes & Heart Health Collaborative Initiatives (MN-DC) was convened in 2000 with a mission to promote diabetes messages and spread best practices for diabetes care statewide. The MN-DC is chaired jointly by the Minnesota Department of Health and Stratis Health – a Medicare Quality Improvement Organization – and includes 18 nonprofit members representing health plans, advocacy, and quality improvement and public health organizations.

Outreach and Promotions

The MN-DC provides a variety of diabetes educational tools to meet needs of adults with diabetes and underserved populations in Minnesota. Using information from NDEP’s 4 Steps to Control Your Diabetes. For Life., Know Your Diabetes ABCs, and Diabetes HealthSense, the MN-DC developed a low literacy patient education toolset used by health educators, community health workers, local public health practitioners, and others. A key element of the toolset is a set of health literacy instructional sheets – designed for use with non-English-speaking people, recent immigrants, the deaf and hard of hearing, the elderly, and others struggling to manage their diabetes due to low health literacy – which uses pictures and a low literacy script for educators with tips for managing diabetes and making healthy behavior changes. The 24 instructional sheets explain various diabetes self-care topics and behavior change tips. Each has a goal setting worksheet to help patients record their readiness for making a change for better health, their goals, questions for their health care team, and their plans for taking the first step.

Minnesota Diabetes and Heart Health Collaborative Additionally, the MN-DC used NDEP’s Take Care of Your Heart. Manage Your Diabetes and Know Your Diabetes ABCs resources to develop patient education handouts and fact sheets for health care professionals, all using simple messaging, resource links, and colorful graphics to help people “Make the Link” between diabetes and heart disease. To promote the “Make the Link” messaging, the MN-DC also developed and published print advertisements and news releases for local media outlets.

Minnesota Diabetes and Heart Health Collaborative - Is Diabetes or Heart Disease in Your Family Tree?The MN-DC also implemented a “Is Diabetes or Heart Disease in Your Family Tree?” campaign to raise awareness about family health history as a risk factor for type 2 diabetes and diabetes-related health problems like heart disease. Campaign materials – based on content from the “Am I at Risk?” section of the NDEP website – include: family history fact sheets, news releases, radio PSAs in five languages, print advertisements, patient handouts, and even a hand-held fan with simple steps to help people reduce their risk for type 2 diabetes.

Lessons Learned

Through these activities, the MN-DC learned many lessons that can be applied to other NDEP partners’ outreach and promotions efforts:

  • Content expertise is not needed by group if using information and resources from NDEP.
  • To reach audiences at a low cost, leverage existing communication vehicles through partnerships.
  • People prefer simple, plain language materials with photos (especially photos that are culturally appropriate).
  • People with diabetes and/or heart disease are effective advocates of prevention messages with their families and communities.

For more information about the Minnesota Diabetes and Heart Health Collaborative’s activities, contact Laurel Reger, MBA, at

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