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Patel MR, Zhang G, Leung C, Song PXK, Heisler M, Choe HM, Mehdipanah R, Shi X, Resnicow K, Rajaee G, Piette JD. Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on unmet social needs, self-care, and outcomes among people with diabetes and poor glycemic control. Primary Care Diabetes. 2022 Feb 1; 16(1):57-64.
AIMS: The purpose of this study was to examine whether pandemic exposure impacted unmet social and diabetes needs, self-care behaviors, and diabetes outcomes in a sample with diabetes and poor glycemic control. METHODS: This was a cross-sectional analysis of participants with diabetes and poor glycemic control in an ongoing trial (n = 353). We compared the prevalence of unmet needs, self-care behaviors, and diabetes outcomes in successive cohorts of enrollees surveyed pre-pandemic (prior to March 11, 2020, n = 182), in the early stages of the pandemic (May-September, 2020, n = 75), and later (September 2020-January 2021, n = 96) stratified by income and gender. Adjusted multivariable regression models were used to examine trends. RESULTS: More participants with low income reported food insecurity (70% vs. 83%, p < 0.05) and needs related to access to blood glucose supplies (19% vs. 67%, p < 0.05) during the pandemic compared to pre-pandemic levels. In adjusted models among people with low incomes, the odds of housing insecurity increased among participants during the early pandemic months compared with participants pre-pandemic (OR 20.2 [95% CI 2.8-145.2], p < 0.01). A1c levels were better among participants later in the pandemic than those pre-pandemic (ß = -1.1 [95% CI -1.8 to -0.4], p < 0.01), but systolic blood pressure control was substantially worse (ß = 11.5 [95% CI 4.2-18.8, p < 0.001). CONCLUSION: Adults with low-incomes and diabetes were most impacted by the pandemic. A1c may not fully capture challenges that people with diabetes are facing to manage their condition; systolic blood pressures may have worsened and problems with self-care may forebode longer-term challenges in diabetes control.