Many Latinas Unaware of their Diabetes Risk

First Posted: Mar 07, 2014 02:15 PM EST

A recent study looks at how many Latinas may be unaware of their diabetes risk, and thus, pushes to increase various health measures that could help them gain access and information to traditional health surfaces.

As it stands, approximately 5.5 million Latinas suffer from elevated fasting plasma glucose (FPG) and close to 4 million of those women were never told about their increased risk for pre-diabetes or diabetes.

"Almost 1 million of these 4 million Latinas had not seen a doctor or other health care provider in the past 12 months,"said  Dr. Shiela M. Strauss, Associate Professor at the New York University College of Nursing (NYUCN). "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."

For the study, researchers analyzed information from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2009 to 2010. They examined information from 1,476 women--Hispanic and non-Hispanic, White and non-Hispanic Black women--all of whom were given a physical examination and participated in interviews that asked questions regarding their socioeconomic status and demographic and health-related issues. The researchers found that many women never told a health provider that they were at risk of any of these health issues.

"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, Ph.D., Director, CDUHR and Senior Research Scientist, College of Nursing, a co-author on the study, via the release. "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."

Researchers note that for many Latina women, their fear of certain risks, along with cultural misconceptions regarding diabetes, makes screening for the disease more challenging, along with self-care.

The study authors said they hope this and future findings may prompt better access, education and understanding for diabetes.

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More information regarding the study "Latinas with Elevated Fasting Plasma Glucose: An Analysis Using NHANES 2009-2010 Data" can be found via the journal Hispanic Health Care International. 

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