Reducing Health Disparities: Medical advice and health behavior of minorities with diabetes

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OBJECTIVE: to examine the relationships among reported medical advice, diabetes education, health insurance and health behavior of individuals with diabetes by race/ethnicity and gender.

METHOD: Secondary analysis of data (N = 654) for adults ages > or = 21 years with diabetes acquired through the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) for the years 2007-2008 comparing Black, non-Hispanics (BNH) and Mexican-Americans (MA) with White, non-Hispanics (WNH). The NHANES survey design is a stratified, multistage probability sample of the civilian noninstitutionalized U.S. population. Sample weights were applied in accordance with NHANES specifications using the complex sample module of IBM SPSS version 18.

RESULTS: The findings revealed statistical significant differences in reported medical advice given. BNH [OR = 1.83 (1.16, 2.88), p = 0.013] were more likely than WNH to report being told to reduce fat or calories. Similarly, BNH [OR = 2.84 (1.45, 5.59), p = 0.005] were more likely than WNH to report that they were told to increase their physical activity. Mexican-Americans were less likely to self-monitor their blood glucose than WNH [OR = 2.70 (1.66, 4.38), p < 0.001]. There were differences by race/ethnicity for reporting receiving recent diabetes education. Black, non-Hispanics were twice as likely to report receiving diabetes education than WNH [OR = 2.29 (1.36, 3.85), p = 0.004]. Having recent diabetes education increased the likelihood of performing several diabetes self-management behaviors independent of race.

CONCLUSIONS: There were significant differences in reported medical advice received for diabetes care by race/ethnicity. The results suggest ethnic variations in patient-provider communication and may be a consequence of their health beliefs, patient-provider communication as well as length of visit and access to healthcare. These findings clearly demonstrate the need for government sponsored programs, with a patient-centered approach, augmenting usual medical care for diabetes. Moreover, the results suggest that public policy is needed to require the provision of diabetes education at least every two years by public health insurance programs and recommend this provision for all private insurance companies



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