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SDM helps launch diabetes awareness campaign in Canada

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TORONTO — A Shoppers Drug Mart (SDM) store in north Toronto was used as the launching pad for CANRISK, a program to encourage Canadians to better understand diabetes and take action to help keep themselves from becoming afflicted with it.

Canadian Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq and SDM executive vice president of pharmacy and health care Dr. Dorian Lo unveiled the program last month.

“Type 2 diabetes and its complications are a growing health concern,” Aglukkaq said at a news conference introducing the program. “For many people however, the disease can be managed and even prevented through lifestyle changes.

“CANRISK is a simple tool to help Canadians understand if they are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes so they can make lifestyle changes before it is too late,” she said.

Lo said that Shoppers Drug Mart sees the program’s and will do all it can to make it work.
“Shoppers Drug Mart is committed to helping Canadians improve their health, and by putting CANRISK into the hands of our customers and patients we are encouraging people who may be at risk to take personal action to prevent diabetes for themselves and their families,” he said. “We are proud to be working together with the Public Health Agency of Canada [PHAC] to advance the prevention of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes.”

CANRISK is based on a questionnaire that will be available in all SDM/Pharmaprix stores across Canada. The questionnaire is a simple set of questions aimed at Canadians between 40 and 74 years old, including those who have undiagnosed type 2 diabetes. It is designed to identify people at high or moderate risk of developing prediabetes and to focus their attention on the specific factors they can modify in their day-to-day living.

Pharmacists in the stores will encourage patients to pick up the material. The questionnaire can be completed either in the paper version or online.

The developers of the project recognized that many members of the public probably are not aware of the distinction between those risk factors, such as family history or ethno-cultural background, that are not modifiable, and others, such as diet, weight and activity levels, that are. They believe that people, through completing the questionnaire and viewing the results, will be led to understand those risk factors within their influence that may lead to diabetes.

Sponsors of the program hope participants will, where necessary, be induced to make lifestyle changes, such as including regular physical activity in their routines and maintaining a healthy body weight, that can lead to long-term health.

Pharmacists in SDM/Pharmaprix stores have been provided with counseling points that they can share with patients with respect to their risk scores. They will provide patients who are interested in learning more about diabetes, risk factors and healthy lifestyle changes with brochures on type 2 diabetes as well as “Your Guide to Diabetes,” produced by PHAC. Patients will also be encouraged, where appropriate, to speak with other health care practitioners such as their family doctor or nurse practitioner.

The concept of establishing this nationwide awareness campaign was developed by SDM, and the idea found ready support from PHAC and Aglukkaq.

The growing incidence of type 2 diabetes has been of strong concern to all public and private bodies in Canada that are involved in maintaining health and dealing with the consequences when it fails.

The ubiquity of SDM stores in Canadian communities means that a high percentage of Canadian residents will have access to the program.

The CANRISK questionnaire was adapted from a version (FINDRISC) used in Finland as part of that nation’s diabetes prevention program. The Canadian questionnaire was developed by PHAC in consultation with the Prediabetes Technical Advisory Group, comprised of leading clinicians and academic researchers from across Canada. These technical experts helped PHAC adapt the questionnaire so that it responded to Canada’s multicultural reality.

To ensure the scientific basis of CANRISK as an appropriate diabetes risk assessment tool PHAC funded seven pilot studies across the country to develop scores representing the level of risk associated with each question in the questionnaire. These studies were conducted in various ethnic populations known to be at high risk of developing diabetes.

Analysis of the data from the pilot projects and subsequent validation of the risk scores underwent peer review, and the program has won support from important professional bodies.

“Education and awareness are cornerstones of preventive medicine,” said Dr. Sandy Buchman, president of the College of Family Physicians of Canada. “Tools like CANRISK can play an important role in supporting the dialogue between people and their health care practitioners about disease prevention.”


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