NEW ORLEANS (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS) – Patients with diabetes who failed to show up for diabetes education classes were slightly younger and less likely to be insured, compared with those who attended the classes. Forty-one percent of those who failed to show were covered by private insurance, and 63% were women.

Those are key findings from an analysis by researchers to investigate the patterns of population characteristics related nonadherence to diabetes education classes that patients are referred to.

“What it shows us is that when we’re trying to get people to come to diabetes education classes, we have to be in tune with the sociodemographic characteristics that present different barriers or obstacles,” Ashby Walker, PhD, said in an interview at the annual scientific sessions of the American Diabetes Association.

Dr. Walker, of the department of health outcomes and policy at the University of Florida, Gainesville, and her associates, including Kathryn Parker, RD, program manager for diabetes education at the UF Health Shands Hospital, Gainesville, conducted a manual chart review to examine the demographics of 257 “no-shows” who were referred to a diabetes education class at the university’s hospital between January 2015 and March 2015. Data of interest included age, gender, diagnosis, reasons for referral, referring department, socioeconomic status, and race/ethnicity. For comparison purposes, the researchers also examined a cohort of 339 patients who showed up for their diabetes education classes between August 2014 and January 2015.

More than two-thirds of the no-shows (69%) had type 2 diabetes, 63% were women, and the mean age was 50 years. More than half (57%) were publicly insured or uninsured, while 41% had private insurance and 3% were self-pay or had missing data for insurance type.

The fact that a higher proportion of the insured no-shows were women surprised the researchers. “If you think about women who are working full time, they often shoulder the tremendous responsibility of household labor, too,” Dr. Walker said. “So for them to take time out of very busy lives to take care of themselves might create a different obstacle than someone who’s very low income or low health literacy who has transportation as a barrier. The findings show us that we have to tailor those interventions appropriately for different audiences.”

Another surprise finding, she said, was the fact that males were underrepresented in both the “no show” cohort (37%) and among those who honored their referrals (32%). “While there are some studies that indicate women fare worse with diabetes than men, the underrepresentation of men warrants further attention,” Dr. Walker said. “It begs the question: Are providers referring men less?”

Shannon Taylor, a fellow researcher at the University of Florida, said that the study’s findings underscore the need for clinicians “to be attuned to the different things about social life that can impact how people self-care, whether it’s gender differences or differences in socioeconomic status.”

The researchers reported having no financial disclosures.


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