Most Latinas aren't aware of their diabetes risk, study finds

A new study from New York University reveals that most Latinas are unaware of their risk for diabetes.

The findings are concerning, given that about 4 million of the 5.5 million Latinas who suffer from elevated blood sugar levels were never told by a medical provider that they were at risk for diabetes or pre-diabetes in the first place, the study found.

"Almost 1 million of these 4 million Latinas had not seen a doctor or other healthcare provider in the past 12 months," said study author Dr. Shiela M. Strauss, an associate professor at New York University College of Nursing. "This is of particular concern as it eliminates a potential opportunity for them to learn about their diabetes risk and their elevated FPG before it causes serious avoidable harm."

Most women not accurately informed

The study used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2009-2010. Examining responses from 1,467 women (Hispanic, non-Hispanic White and non-Hispanic Black), the researchers looked at how often women were not accurately informed about diabetes risk from their health-care providers.

Findings showed that, in addition to lower health-care utilization among Latina women, the majority of these women never knew they were at risk for diabetic-related complications. Based on the results, the study authors assert there is a need for better diabetes screening and more culturally competent care across a patient's series of doctor visits.

"Incorporating this assessment as part of most (if not all) health care visits is likely to increase the early identification of women who are at risk for diabetes," said co-author Sherry Deren, Ph.D., Senior Research Scientist at the College of Nursing.

Diabetes among Latinas a growing problem

According to Dr. Helene D. Clayton-Jeter, director of the Cardiovascular and Endocrine Liason Program at the FDA's Office of Health and Constituent Affairs, the proportion of Latinas with diabetes is expected to keep rising. Therefore, better efforts to help this population utilize health care services are needed.

"There is also a critical need for effective strategies that are considerate of culture and language preferences, including case management, extended follow up care, and a team approach for supporting Latinas and others with pre-diabetes and diabetes in order to respond to an increasingly serious public health threat," Clayton-Jeter said.

The study was published in Hispanic Health Care International.

Source: New York University

Photo credit: David Castillo Dominici/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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