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Racial differences in long-term self-monitoring practice among newly drug-treated diabetes patients in an HMO.

Trinacty CM, Adams AS, Soumerai SB, Zhang F, Meigs JB, Piette JD, Ross-Degnan D. Racial differences in long-term self-monitoring practice among newly drug-treated diabetes patients in an HMO. Journal of general internal medicine. 2007 Nov 1; 22(11):1506-13.

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BACKGROUND: One approach to improving outcomes for minority diabetics may be through better self-care. However, minority patients may encounter barriers to better self-care even within settings where variations in quality of care and insurance are minimized. OBJECTIVE: The objective of the study was to evaluate racial differences in long-term glucose self-monitoring and adherence rates in an HMO using evidence-based guidelines for self-monitoring. DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study using 10 years (1/1/1993-12/31/2002) of electronic medical record data was used. PATIENTS: Patients were 1,732 insured adult diabetics of black or white race newly initiated on hypoglycemic therapy in a large multi-specialty care group practice. MEASUREMENTS: Outcomes include incidence and prevalence of glucose self-monitoring, intensity of use, and rate of adherence to national recommended standards. RESULTS: We found no evidence of racial differences in adjusted initiation rates of glucose self-monitoring among insulin-treated patients, but found lower rates of initiation among black patients living in low-income areas. Intensity of glucose self-monitoring remained lower among blacks than whites throughout follow-up [IRR for insulin = 0.41 (0.27-0.62); IRR for oral hypoglycemic = 0.75 (0.63, 0.90)], with both groups monitoring well below recommended standards. Among insulin-treated patients, < 1% of blacks and < 10% of whites were self-monitoring 3 times per day; 36% of whites and 10% of blacks were self-monitoring at least once per day. CONCLUSIONS: Adherence to glucose self-monitoring standards was low, particularly among blacks, and racial differences in self-monitoring persisted within a health system providing equal access to services for diabetes patients. Early and continued emphasis on adherence among black diabetics may be necessary to reduce racial differences in long-term glucose self-monitoring.

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