The Times West Virginian

Local News

April 30, 2014

Study researching depression in diabetics

Program ACTIVE seeks participants

FAIRMONT — Program ACTIVE, a research study looking at the treatment of depression in people with type 2 diabetes, is currently seeking participants from Marion, Monongalia, Harrison, Taylor and Preston counties.

West Virginia University exercise physiologist Guy Hornsby, Ph.D., is the WVU site principle investigator for the program.

“We are partnering with researchers in both Athens, Ohio and Indianapolis, Indiana, to try to see what is the best treatment for people with depression who happen to have type 2 diabetes,” Hornsby said. “We know it is much more common in diabetics than in the general population. We don’t know exactly why that is, but diabetes is a tremendous burden on people and their lifestyles.”

Hornsby said that one in four diabetics will suffer from depression at some point in their lives.

“The depression makes it more difficult for people to control their blood sugar,” he said.

Susan Eason, project coordinator, explained that participants who qualify to participate will be randomly placed in one of four treatment groups, all of which last for 12 weeks.

The first treatment group will participate in a 12-week exercise program, which includes six one-on-one sessions with a fitness instructor, and 10 sessions of individual talk therapy with a licensed talk therapist.

The second group participates in the 12 weeks of exercise, including the six one-on-one sessions with a fitness instructor.

The third group participates in 10 sessions of individual talk therapy with the licensed talk therapist.

The final group receives the normal care they are receiving from their doctor.

“Everyone who is enrolled in the study is asked to attend ‘Dining with Diabetes’ classes, which are offered in each county,” Eason said.

Participants placed in the groups with talk therapy receive the sessions at no charge. Participants placed in groups that meet with a fitness instructor are also given a free three-month gym membership for the duration of the study.

Participants in the exercise groups can choose to work out at one of several partnered fitness facilities, with at least one available in each county. In Marion County, participants can go to Healthplus.

Kellie Snyder is the exercise instructor for the study at Healthplus. She said she has enjoyed working with the program, which has been enrolling participants from North Central West Virginia for about a year.

She said she works with participants to first give them a “cognitive awareness” of diabetes and then works with them on how to work with diabetes and exercise.

“What I usually recommend for somebody starting out is a little bit of cardio, and then strength training,” Snyder said. “Strength training is usually underrated. I like to show them that there is more than just walking on a treadmill, or just hopping on a bike.”

Snyder said she has seen great changes in her participants.

“I don’t actually get to see all of the data involved, but with several of them that have come out religiously, and utilized the gym,” Snyder said. “I’ve noticed mood changes.

“I love that part of my job,” she said.

Snyder said that while there are no limitations to what a person with diabetes can do in the gym, relative to what someone without diabetes can do, people with diabetes need to keep an eye on their blood sugar when they work out.

“What we recommend with Program ACTIVE is that after an hour of activity, you need to stop and check your sugar, and see where you are, and to see if you’re okay to continue what you’re doing,” Snyder said. “And of course, more intense exercise could increase the risk of it.”

If participants aren’t placed into the two groups that receive exercise sessions, this doesn’t mean they have to stop their normal exercise routine.

“They can keep doing any exercise they’re already doing,” Eason said. “Whatever they’re usually doing is fine.”

After the 12-week intervention, participants come back at three months, six months and 12 months for follow-up visits to check on how they are doing. At the completion of the six-month follow-up, participants receive a $20 gift card. After the 12-month follow-up, participants receive a $30 gift card.

Eason said they will work to match participants’ schedules.

“Most people have found it to work out pretty well for their schedules,” Eason said.

Participants must be 18 years or older. They must also have had type 2 diabetes for at least two years, and depression for two weeks or longer. They also have to be medically stable.

“If someone has diabetes, we would like them to call the toll-free number, and see if they meet the criteria,” Hornsby said.

First, potential participants will do a short phone interview. They will be asked questions about their medical history, and current mood and feelings.

If they seem to fit the study criteria, they will be asked to come into one of the community fitness facilities from the study, and complete a six-minute walk test; have their blood drawn to measure their A1c, blood glucose and lipids; answer questionnaires and complete a longer phone interview on their mood and feelings.

After the data is collected and reviewed by the research team, potential participants will be contacted to let them know if they qualify to participate in the study. If they qualify, they will then be randomized into one of the four groups. There is no cost to participate.

Diabetes is a growing problem in West Virginia.

“It’s a tremendous problem, and West Virginia is one of the top three states for people who have it,” Hornsby said.

Eason said that they are hoping to get more participants into the study.

“We’re continually looking for people to be in the study,” Eason said. “We’re hoping this program that’s been developed is something that could be translated to being used in the community.”

Hornsby agreed.

“We have up to 20 subjects now, and we’re trying to get as many more as we can,” Hornsby said. He said they will probably be actively recruiting participants for the next six months.

He said the issue of diabetes and depression is an important one.

“It’s bad enough to have diabetes, but to have diabetes and be depressed — that kind of compounds the problem,” Hornsby said. “We think this research study can help a lot of people who have depression.”

If you would like to see if you qualify to participate in the study, Eason said to call either 1-855-362-2848 or 304-293-7322 to receive the initial phone screening.

Email Colleen S. Good at or follow her on Twitter @CSGoodTWV.

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