Study outlines factors associated with untreated diabetes

Research Activities, May 2012, No. 381

Untreated or undertreated diabetes can cause debilitating complications such as blindness and amputations. Among adults with diagnosed diabetes, 87 percent reported using oral medications or insulin, 10.6 percent reported treating their diabetes with diet, but not drugs, and 2.4 percent reported not using any of these treatments. Those are the results of a study by Steven C. Hill, Ph.D., of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), and a team of researchers from AHRQ and the Government Accountability Office.

Lack of resources was strongly associated with lack of treatment. In particular, 5.5 percent of the full-year uninsured were untreated, compared with 2.2 percent of people who had insurance for at least part of the calendar year. Similarly, 7.9 percent of those lacking a usual source of care were untreated compared with 2.1 percent of those who had a usual source of care. Lack of resources is also strongly associated with use of diet only to control diabetes. Most notably, 19.7 percent of those with no usual source of care used diet only, compared with 10.1 percent of people who had a usual source of care.

The researchers suggest that multiple strategies are needed to initiate treatment for these difficult-to-reach patients. Data for the study came from AHRQ's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Diabetes Care Supplement, a nationally representative sample of adults diagnosed with diabetes that is administered annually. Between 2000 and 2006, 10,681 adults provided treatment information in the survey.

See "Adults with diagnosed and untreated diabetes. Who are they? How can we reach them?" by Dr. Hill, G. Edward Miller, Ph.D., and Merrile Sing, Ph.D., in Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved 22, pp. 1221-1238, 2011. Reprints (AHRQ Publication No. 12-R025) are available from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse.

Current as of May 2012
Internet Citation: Study outlines factors associated with untreated diabetes: Research Activities, May 2012, No. 381. May 2012. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/may12/0512RA17.html