Gender and racial disparities in the management of diabetes mellitus among Medicare patients

Ann F Chou, Arleen F Brown, Roxanne E Jensen, Sarah Shih, Greg Pawlson, Sarah Hudson Scholle
Women's Health Issues: Official Publication of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health 2007, 17 (3): 150-61

BACKGROUND: Racial/ethnic disparities in diabetes care have been demonstrated in several settings, but few studies have evaluated whether racial/ethnic differences vary by gender. The objective of this study is to understand gender and racial effects on diabetes care for Medicare managed care beneficiaries.

METHODS: Using data from: (1) Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS); (2) Medicare Enrollment Files; and (3) U.S. Census, hierarchical generalized linear analyses were conducted to model the six HEDIS comprehensive diabetes care quality indicators, including processes of care and intermediate outcome measures, as a function of gender and race/ethnicity.

RESULTS: Women were more likely to have received HbA(1c) screening or eye examination, but less likely to have LDL control at <100 mg/dL, compared to men. Racial disparities favored whites in five measures, where African Americans were less likely to have received HbA(1c) screening, eye examination, cholesterol screening, or achieve adequate HbA(1c) control or LDL control at <100 mg/dL. Enrollees in managed care plans where African Americans constituted more than 20% of their insured population tended to have lower likelihood of meeting the HbA(1c) screening, HbA(1c) control, and eye examination measures.

CONCLUSIONS AND DISCUSSION: Gender and racial disparities in performance indicators were present among persons enrolled in Medicare managed care. White women were more likely to have met the performance measures related to process of care, but African Americans fared worse in both process of care and intermediate health outcome measures, compared to their white counterparts. Poor performance in cholesterol control observed in women of both races suggests the possibility of less intensive cholesterol treatment in women. The differences in the pattern of care demonstrate the need for interventions tailored to address gender and race/ethnicity.

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