April 28, 2009 / 6:25 PM / 10 years ago

Minority patients often lack diabetes knowledge

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Many low-income minority individuals with type 2 diabetes have misconceptions about the disease that could put their health at risk, new research shows.

About one in three thought that their doctor would be able to cure their diabetes or that they wouldn’t always have diabetes, while most didn’t know about the hemoglobin A1C test, a key gauge of long-term blood glucose control.

“The newly observed misconceptions and related predictors may represent important opportunities for targeting barriers to successful diabetes management,” Dr. Devin M. Mann and colleagues write in the medical journal Diabetes Care.

Mann, at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, and his team surveyed 151 people with diabetes, 58 percent of whom were Latino and 34 percent of whom were African American. Most had annual incomes below $30,000. The study participants had diabetes for 13 years, on average, and were getting regular medical care.

Fifty-six percent thought that normal blood glucose levels were 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) of blood or less (normal levels actually are below 100 mg/dL for fasting blood glucose or below 140 mg/dL after an oral glucose tolerance test).

Another 42 percent said that glucose levels of 110 mg/dL or less were too low.

Fifty-four percent said they could feel it when their blood glucose levels were too high.

The 55 percent of study participants using insulin were more likely to have misconceptions about diabetes, as were the 25 percent whose A1C levels signaled poor blood glucose control

Lack of knowledge about diabetes and its management may be even more common among people with less access to care, Mann and his colleagues say.

Addressing these misunderstandings may be a good way to help low-income minority individuals with diabetes to manage the condition more effectively, they conclude.

SOURCE: Diabetes Care, April 2009.

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