February 25, 2014
Monika M. Safford, MD, of UAB’s Nutrition Obesity Research Center, Inaugural Endowed Professor of Diabetes Prevention and Outcomes Research at the Comprehensive Diabetes Center , has won the Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM)  Alere Wellbeing Research to Practice Award , in recognition of her extensive efforts to bring improved health care to a disadvantaged population.
Working within the impoverished Alabama Black Belt—a region characterized by not only the highest prevalence of diabetes and the highest stroke and coronary heart disease mortality in the country, but also steep poverty, scarce resources, and largely single physician private practices—Dr. Safford has helped to establish a local health worker presence aimed at assisting residents with such chronic diseases as diabetes to improve their health outcomes. In addition, she is currently working with area practices to take advantage of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid  Services’ recent ruling that community health worker activities—including providing information on and assistance with healthful eating, physical activity, and medication adherence—will be reimbursed for Medicaid patients.
Dr. Safford is also implementing a program in which community health workers deliver a cognitive behavior training intervention for residents experiencing both diabetes and chronic pain. Its main goals are to improve functioning, physical activity, and mood without relying on medications or mental health professionals, which are extremely scarce in this remote, under-resourced region. Her work in partnership with community-based groups and local practices promotes the uptake of effective, sustainable health-promoting interventions. Dr. Safford’s team has engaged over 30 primary care practices throughout the west and central Black Belt region—who are now collaborating on their third research project—which foster the development of practice-based research in one of the highest need regions in the country.
The SBM will honor Dr. Safford for her achievements at their 35th Annual Meeting & Sessions  to be held April 23-26, 2014, in Philadelphia.