The portfolio of the Prevention Research Group comprises three main areas that are partly overlapping:
1. Prediabetes and risk groups
2. Young people and schools
3. Families and community health
1. Prediabetes and risk groups cover two main themes, ‘diabetes in relation to pregnancy’ and ‘prediabetes’. Diabetes in relation to pregnancy is most frequently conceptualized as Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) – a condition of abnormal glucose metabolism diagnosed during pregnancy which can lead to numerous complications for mother and child during and after pregnancy. The term, ‘prediabetes’, refers to a condition where persons have borderline abnormal glucose metabolism and therefore increased risk of developing full-fledged type 2 diabetes The Prevention Research Group explores how this development may be avoided in ‘real life’ settings focusing on health promotion approaches that utilize population resources among marginalised population segments thereby reducing inequity in health.
The Feasibility of Diabetes Prevention in real life settings
2. Young people and schools. Children and adolescents that are healthy today may get type 2 diabetes later in life. Early prevention such as establishment of healthy habits and development of young people’s action competence and empowerment to deal with and change “obesogenic” environments is a means of preventing type 2 diabetes. The project portfolio includes school-based projects exploring innovative ways of achieving these goals such as the pedagogic use of pedometers, child theatre, outdoor schooling, information and communication technology and cross-cultural communication.
3. Families and community health. The ‘supersetting approach’ takes the more traditional ‘setting approach’ to a new level. Whereas former health promotion projects have often operated within ‘settings’ (e.g. schools or workplaces), a new concept has emerged. A supersetting is a larger unit with combined administrative and geographical demarcation comprising several ‘traditional’ settings. The SOL project at Bornholm is an example of a health promotion project covering local media, supermarkets, schools and daycare institutions. The large PULSE project based on collaboration with Experimentarium in Hellerup north of Copenhagen is another example.
Collaborative approach based on the principles of the Health Promotion Research
Eleven researchers including four PhD students are attached to the Prevention Research Group alongside with short term support staff and Master students. The research group collaborates across the three research areas integrating the five principles: participation, action competence, a positive and broad concept of health, the importance of context and a focus on equity in health. An action research approach combined with mixed methods and state of the art health promotion theories are applied.
The research is conducted in close collaboration with academic and non-academic partners. Thus, there are close ties with other centers at Steno Diabetes Center, with Danish universities (Roskilde, Southern Denmark, Aalborg, Aarhus and Copenhagen) as well as universities abroad (e.g. Southampton in UK, Witwatersrand in South Africa, and Monash in Malaysia). In addition the group collaborates with ministries and Danish municipalities (e.g. Copenhagen, Bornholm, Gentofte, Odsherred, Sønderborg and Vejle), Science Centers (Experimentarium in northern Copenhagen), schools, civil society and health authorities.