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American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation Launches Cities for Life

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., April 24, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) Foundation announced the launch of Cities for Life in Birmingham, Ala., a community-based diabetes management program anchored in family medicine. With nearly 26 million people living with diabetes in the U.S. and with one in three Alabamians born after 2000 developing diabetes during their lifetime, Cities for Life, supported by Sanofi US, will work with community groups to create an environment that facilitates healthy lifestyles and diabetes management.[i],[ii] The AAFP Foundation is guiding this grassroots program because family physicians and other primary care professionals provide most of the care for people living with diabetes, and these professionals seek to develop better strategies for effective management of the disease.

"The Cities for Life program provides a standard of care and community support that will help educate people living with diabetes on how to better manage their condition. The AAFP Foundation is committed to driving significant change in the treatment and management of diabetes, and through initiatives such as Cities for Life and the Behavioral Economics Roundtable on Diabetes, the AAFP Foundation is bringing together leaders in primary care, industry experts and local communities to collaboratively address the growing problem of diabetes," said Mary Jo Welker, MD, president, AAFP Foundation.

As Alabama has one of the highest rates of diabetes in the U.S. and is also committed to improving the lives of its citizens, the AAFP Foundation is focusing on the Birmingham communities of Southside, Southwest, Homewood, Titusville and West End for this initiative and will partner with the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), a world-renowned research university and academic center.[iii]

A key component of Cities for Life is the use of a patient navigator to work directly with family medicine practices to help create sustainable linkages between existing community resources and patients with diabetes or at risk for diabetes. The AAFP National Research Network (NRN), the country's largest practice-based research network, will work closely with key community partners to help develop the patient navigation system and guide patients towards appropriate, accessible resources that facilitate a healthy lifestyle and diabetes management outside the exam room. The project will also receive programmatic guidance from the AAFP Foundation's Peers for Progress program.

Cities for Life is designed to be a grassroots program optimizing the collective strength of Birmingham's "medical neighborhood;" i.e., family medicine practices, health-care and education opportunities through UAB and the many community resources that currently facilitate a patient's efforts toward a healthier life. Key partners include:

  • UAB Department of Family and Community Medicine (UAB-DFCM)
  • Several family medicine practices recruited, selected and guided by UAB-DFCM throughout the Cities for Life project
  • UAB's Diabetes Research and Training Center's Community Engagement Core (DRTC-CEC)
  • UAB HealthSmart
  • YMCA of Greater Birmingham

"A major challenge that Cities for Life addresses is the coordination of care among several sources, which can help facilitate improved management of diabetes. By incorporating key elements such as the patient-centered medical home, community leadership and resources, peer support, diabetes self-management education and social marketing into our program, we hope to see real change for the better in our patients diagnosed with diabetes," said Dr. Michael Harrington, chair, UAB Department of Family and Community Medicine.

Cities for Life will define specific metrics to determine the success of the project. A formal evaluation by the NRN will look carefully at all aspects of this pilot project, including:

  • A thorough process evaluation in order to understand the development and implementation of the program model at the practice and community level, culminating with recommendations for dissemination of the model in other cities.
  • Patient metrics around diabetes management and prevention including clinical outcomes, self-efficacy and self-management, and interviews regarding the patient navigation process.

In addition, changes will be assessed at the community level such as general awareness about the program.

Cities for Life stems from the AAFP Foundation's Behavioral Economics Roundtable on Diabetes Summary Report, which urged communities to develop comprehensive programs for better diabetes management. To drive improved community health through behavioral economics, the program will link people from primary care to community support by creating partnerships with community organizations which could benefit people living with diabetes and those at risk for diabetes. In addition, once these community partners are fully engaged, a sustainable way to incentivize patients for healthy behavior change will be explored, such as rewarding patients who log five miles a week walking or running with a reward (e.g., vouchers for free meals at local restaurants, free fitness class).

"Sanofi US is excited to support the Cities for Life project. With the AAFP Foundation's leadership, at program conclusion we will have a better roadmap for how communities can work with family physicians and individuals to support diabetes management," said Dennis Urbaniak, vice president, head of U.S. Diabetes, Sanofi US.

Visit for more information about the Cities for Life program.

About the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation

The AAFP Foundation serves as the philanthropic arm of the American Academy of Family Physicians. Its mission is to advance the values of Family Medicine by promoting humanitarian, educational and scientific initiatives that improve the health of all people. For more information, please visit


[i] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Diabetes Fact Sheet, 2011. Atlanta, GA: U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services; 2011.
Accessed June 17, 2011. p.1,l.2,7.

[ii] Factors Affecting Benefit/Harm of Intensive Glucose Control in Type 2 Diabetes Reported [press release]. American Diabetes Association; June 16, 2009. P. 2, l.42-44.

[iii] Factors Affecting Benefit/Harm of Intensive Glucose Control in Type 2 Diabetes Reported [press release]. American Diabetes Association; June 16, 2009. P. 2, l.42-44.


SOURCE American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation
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