Date of Conferral



Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)




Robert McWhirt


Adult residents in rural communities have a higher incidence of chronic diseases. This fact coupled with low health literacy and a lack of primary and specialty care services makes the management of diseases such as diabetes difficult. The purpose of this doctoral project was to develop a diabetic health literacy program for staff of a rural federally qualified health care center (FQHC) that is the largest primary care center within a 5-county area in a rural mid-Atlantic region of the United States. Most residents have difficulty understanding diabetic information as it is presented to them, which leads to an increase in nonadherence to treatment plans, decreased health stature, increased comorbidities, and an increase in utilization of emergency room and acute care resources. A prior study of 140 randomized adult diabetic patients was the basis for the need of this project. Designed as a staff development in-service to educate nursing and the care provider team, this program integrated health literacy and therapeutic communication techniques into diabetic care. Using the health literate care model universal precautions approach, the project began as a pilot at one of the FQHC's clinical sites by assessing all patients for health literacy using the Newest Vital Sign screening tool. Staff were instructed on the validity of using health literate therapeutic communications as a bridge to adherence to diabetic treatment regimens. The project has potential to improve the overall health and promote positive social change in the rural community.