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Latinas at Higher Risk for Diabetes

Mar 07, 2014 04:58 PM EST

Nearly 5.5 million Latinas suffer from elevated fasting plasma glucose (FPG) and almost 4 million of those women were never told by a healthcare provider that they were at risk for diabetes, a recent study shows.

The study directed by Dr. Shiela M. Strauss, associate professor at New York University College of Nursing (NYUCN), suggests a desperate need for diabetes screening as well as culturally sensitive after-care and follow-up.

The researchers examined data, from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2009-2010, from 1,467 Hispanic, non-Hispanic White, and non-Hispanic Black women. All of the women were given a physical examination and asked questions about their socioeconomic status, demographic, and health related issues.

The data showed that a quarter of the 4 million Latinas studied had not seen a healthcare provider in a year which is particularly problematic because the women eliminate the opportunity to be notified of their elevated FPG before it causes irreversible damage.

"In addition to our finding regarding lower health care utilization for Latina women, the finding that the majority of women with elevated FPG levels who had not been told they were at risk, even among those with higher levels of contact with a health care provider, indicates the urgent need to incorporate diabetes screening and culturally competent care across a broader range of health care visits," said Sherry Deren of NYUCN.

Latina women are at a higher risk for complications arising from diabetes due to their fear of and culturally erroneous beliefs about the disease. Coupled with an overall lack of understanding about diabetes, it is imperative that health care providers begin incorporating diabetes screening assessments into most, if not all, health care visits, in order to increase early identification for those at risk for diabetes.

"With the proportion of Latinas with diabetes expected to rise dramatically, there is an urgent need for increased efforts to enhance use of traditional health services by Latinas, and to develop alternate sites for diabetes screening," said Dr. Helene D. Clayton-Jeter of NYUCN.

The study suggests alternative sites like optometry venues, pharmacies, dental visits, mobile delivery via health vans, or even places of worship in order to increase access and education about diabetes and its effects.

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