Diabetes Personal Action Toward Health (DPATH) is a program developed by the University of Stanford, designed to help people who are affected by diabetes. The six-week course can be useful not only for those who themselves have diabetes, but also for pre-diabetics or people living with diabetic family members and loved ones. Since the course is put on by non-medical professionals, it is not a medical class (although medications and visits to physicians are discussed as important parts of managing diabetes), but rather a practical class—offering things like strategies to deal with difficult emotions, information on how to eat well as a diabetic (or cook for a diabetic friend or family member), relaxation techniques, and ideas for exercising and daily activity. Since life with a chronic disease is filled with choices that will affect your health, the class also spends time on decision-making.
An important part of the curriculum is establishing a weekly action plan, where each participant decides on a quantifiable, measurable goal for the week; and in each class, participants share their experiences from the past week with their action plan. Many plans revolve around exercise (walking one mile four days during the week) or nutrition (cooking supper three nights); but could include anything a person wants to achieve in the next week. These action plans give participants a way to feel accomplished and encouraged if a goal is met; and if the goal turns out to be too ambitious, participants are encouraged to modify as they go along. Back in the group, fellow classmates can celebrate successes and offer support and suggestions. Troubleshooting problems together as a class reinforces key problem-solving and decision-making skills the course teaches.
While the information in the class is valuable, what many participants find most uplifting is the support the class offers. Being in a room with 10 other people who have similar experiences and daily struggles provides a safe space for people to vent frustrations and fears that are present in the life of a diabetic, as well as people to help celebrate the victories. With the new tools and new relationships formed by the end of the class, the participants feel better-equipped to deal with their diabetes going forward.