Racial and Economic Disparities in Diabetes in a Large Primary Care Patient Population

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Ethnicity & disease


OBJECTIVE: We sought to determine if, after adjusting for economic status, race is an independent risk factor for glycemic control among diabetic patients in a large primary care patient population.

DESIGN SETTING PARTICIPANTS: We performed a retrospective chart review of 264,000 primary care patients at our large, urban academic medical center to identify patients with a diagnosis of diabetes (n=25,123). Zip code was used to derive median income levels using US Census Bureau demographic information. Self-reported race was extracted from registration data.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The prevalence of diabetes, average glycated hemoglobin (A1c), and prevalence of uncontrolled diabetes of White and Black patients at all income levels were determined.

RESULTS: White patients had a lower average A1c level and a lower prevalence of diabetes than Black patients in all income quartiles (P

CONCLUSIONS: Race had an independent association with diabetes prevalence and glycemic control. Our study does not support two prominent theories that economic and insurance status are the main factors in diabetes disparities, as we attempted to control for economic status and nearly every patient had insurance. It will be important for future analysis to explore how health care system factors affect these observed gaps in quality.

Medical Subject Headings

African Americans; Blood Glucose; Continental Population Groups; Diabetes Mellitus; European Continental Ancestry Group; Glycated Hemoglobin A; Humans; Income; Primary Health Care; Retrospective Studies; Risk Factors; Socioeconomic Factors

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