Diabetes-Based Science Education for Tribal Schools (DETS)

An Evidence-Based Practice


The Diabetes-Based Science Education for Tribal Schools (DETS) curriculum is a four week, K-12 curriculum that seeks to lower type 2 diabetes rates in American Indian/Alaskan Native (AI/AN) youth through a science-based diabetes/health education program that is conscious of the cultural diversity in AI/AN communities. The age-adjusted type 2 diabetes rate among AI/AN youth under 35 who used the Indian Health Service doubled between 1994 and 2004, making youth education a possible intervention to lower type 2 diabetes rates in AI/AN communities. DETS was created through a collaborative effort by three federal agencies, eight tribal colleges and universities, and seven sister sites in order to accomplish three goals: (1) educate AI/AN youth on diabetes and health, (2) instill a balanced understanding of scientific principles with respect to community values, and (3) promote science and health careers among AI/AN youth. A critical feature of the DETS curriculum is to constantly reinforce the link between the school classroom and the tribal community.

The DETS curriculum was initially implemented in fifteen geographically diverse sites in order to test its efficacy but has since been adopted by many other schools in the United States, both on and off reservations. The DETS curriculum, broken down by units and grade levels, is available for free through the DETS website. The DETS curriculum is funded by the CDC, the NIH, and the Indian Health Service.

Goal / Mission

The goal of the Diabetes-Based Science Education for Tribal Schools (DETS) curriculum is to slow or reverse the rising rate of type 2 diabetes in American Indian/Alaskan Native (AI/AN) youth through a pedagogy based in a combination of a science-based diabetes/health education and culturally relevant contexts.

Results / Accomplishments

The metrics used to measure the success of the DETS curriculum in achieving its three primary goals were pre-post assessments of students' knowledge, attitudes towards science and interest in science/health careers. First, in all grade levels and units students achieved strong knowledge gains (p<.001 for all units and grade levels). Second, the students' attitudes towards science, as measured by the Test of Science-Related Attitude, did not significantly improve. Third, there seemed to be an increase in interest in science/health careers, although the difference was not significant due to a small sample size. In addition, teachers unanimously agreed that the DETS curriculum is more interesting than similar curricula and it is strongly oriented toward Native American content.

About this Promising Practice

Primary Contact
Carolee Dodge Francis, Ed.D.
School of Community Health Sciences, UNLV
4505 S. Maryland Parkway Box 3063
Las Vegas, NV 89154
(702) 895-5586
Health / Diabetes
Health / Teen & Adolescent Health
Education / School Environment
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Diabetes Education for Tribal Schools
Date of publication
Date of implementation
For more details
Target Audience
Children, Teens, Racial/Ethnic Minorities

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