Identifying Risk Factors for Racial Disparities in Diabetes Outcomes: The Translating Research Into Action for Diabetes Study

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Versus whites, blacks with diabetes have poorer control of hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), higher systolic blood pressure (SBP), and higher low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol as well as higher rates of morbidity and microvascular complications.


To examine whether several mutable risk factors were more strongly associated with poor control of multiple intermediate outcomes among blacks with diabetes than among similar whites.


Case-control study.


A total of 764 blacks and whites with diabetes receiving care within 8 managed care health plans.


Cases were patients with poor control of at least 2 of 3 intermediate outcomes (HbA1c ≥8.0%, SBP ≥140 mmHg, LDL cholesterol ≥130 mg/dL) and controls were patients with good control of all 3 (HbA1c <8.0%, SBP <140 mmHg, LDL cholesterol <130 mg/dL). In multivariate analyses, we determined whether each of several potentially mutable risk factors, including depression, poor adherence to medications, low self-efficacy for reducing cardiovascular risk, and poor patient-provider communication, predicted case or control status.


Among blacks but not whites, in multivariate analyses depression (odds ratio: 2.28; 95% confidence interval: 1.09–4.75) and having missed medication doses (odds ratio: 1.96; 95% confidence interval: 1.01–3.81) were associated with greater odds of being a case rather than a control. None of the other risk factors were associated for either blacks or whites.


Depression and missing medication doses are more strongly associated with poor diabetes control among blacks than in whites. These 2 risk factors may represent important targets for patient-level interventions to address racial disparities in diabetes outcomes.

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