JOURNAL ARTICLE

Regional, geographic, and racial/ethnic variation in glycemic control in a national sample of veterans with diabetes

Leonard E Egede, Mulugeta Gebregziabher, Kelly J Hunt, Robert N Axon, Carrae Echols, Gregory E Gilbert, Patrick D Mauldin
Diabetes Care 2011, 34 (4): 938-43
21335370

OBJECTIVE: We performed a retrospective analysis of a national cohort of veterans with diabetes to better understand regional, geographic, and racial/ethnic variation in diabetes control as measured by HbA(1c).

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: A retrospective cohort study was conducted in a national cohort of 690,968 veterans with diabetes receiving prescriptions for insulin or oral hypoglycemic agents in 2002 that were followed over a 5-year period. The main outcome measures were HbA(1c) levels (as continuous and dichotomized at ≥8.0%).

RESULTS: Relative to non-Hispanic whites (NHWs), HbA(1c) levels remained 0.25% higher in non-Hispanic blacks (NHBs), 0.31% higher in Hispanics, and 0.14% higher in individuals with other/unknown/missing racial/ethnic group after controlling for demographics, type of medication used, medication adherence, and comorbidities. Small but statistically significant geographic differences were also noted with HbA(1c) being lowest in the South and highest in the Mid-Atlantic. Rural/urban location of residence was not associated with HbA(1c) levels. For the dichotomous outcome poor control, results were similar with race/ethnic group being strongly associated with poor control (i.e., odds ratios of 1.33 [95% CI 1.31-1.35] and 1.57 [1.54-1.61] for NHBs and Hispanics vs. NHWs, respectively), geographic region being weakly associated with poor control, and rural/urban residence being negligibly associated with poor control.

CONCLUSIONS: In a national longitudinal cohort of veterans with diabetes, we found racial/ethnic disparities in HbA(1c) levels and HbA(1c) control; however, these disparities were largely, but not completely, explained by adjustment for demographic characteristics, medication adherence, type of medication used to treat diabetes, and comorbidities.

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