THPS/Diabetes Prevention: Special Diabetes Program for Indians

Diabetes Prevention: Special Diabetes Program for Indians

“Since 1997, Congress has supported the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) to help prevent and treat the deadly epidemic of diabetes across Indian Country. The SDPI investment is consistent with the trust and treaty obligations of the United States to ensure for the overall health and wellness of Native peoples…the SDPI investment has resulted in a measurable decrease in the onset of diabetes, a reduction in related complications, healthier choices, and lives saved. Without question, the SDPI program has positively contributed to the long-term health, wellness, and survival of Native peoples.”

- Kitcki Carroll, USET Executive Director

In accordance with the United States’ trust obligation to provide healthcare to Tribal communities, Congress established the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) in 1997 to address the growing rate of diabetes and related complications within Tribal Nations. The burden of diabetes in Tribal communities is greater than in other racial and ethnic groups; a 2018 study analyzing Indian Health Service (IHS) data found that 22.8% of the Native Americans in the IHS Nashville Area were affected by diabetes. However, despite these alarming disparities, recent trends have shown significant declines in diabetes prevalence, diabetes-related morbidity, mortality, and hospitalizations among Native American people nationally. SDPI provides annual funding for diabetes treatment and prevention programs nationally.

USET’s Area Diabetes Consultant provides diabetes prevention and treatment education and technical assistance to Tribal Nations in the IHS Nashville Area. We work to analyze clinical diabetes data annually and select specific areas of improvement to target for the upcoming year. We provide a report with the results of these analyses to Tribal Nation leaders and policymakers to assist decision-makers in making informed decisions about the most needed diabetes prevention programming.

The 2020 SDPI Report to Congress highlights the program’s ongoing and outstanding contributions to improvements in diabetes care and health outcomes for Tribal communities.

We work with Tribal Nations to implement evidence-based diabetes prevention programs, resulting in nearly 400 programs that enhanced diabetes care and education and established innovative and culturally appropriate strategies to combat the diabetes epidemic. These include:

  • The National Diabetes Prevention Program Lifestyle Change Program focuses on healthy eating and physical activity. It has been shown to reduce the risk of prediabetes progressing to type 2 diabetes. Learn more about this program.
  • The Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support Program (DSMES) provides an evidence-based foundation to empower people with diabetes to navigate self-management decisions and activities. This includes helping the person with diabetes develop problem-solving skills and attain ongoing decision-making support to successfully manage their diabetes on their own. The DSMES toolkit provides resources and tools in one place to assist with the development, promotion, implementation, and sustainability of activities that allow individuals to successfully self-manage their disease. It is a cost-effective tool proven to have a positive impact on eating patterns, activity levels, and improved quality of life.
  • Congressional Research Service Report on Special Diabetes Programs – January 2020


For more information, please contact USET's SDPI team: