English ability and glycemic control in Latinos with diabetes

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Objective. To determine if there is an association between self-reported English language ability and glycemic control in Latinos with type 2 diabetes. Design. Descriptive correlational study using data from a larger cross-sectional study. Setting and participants. 167 adults with diabetes who selfidentified as Latino or Hispanic recruited at clinics in the Chicago area from May 2004 to May 2006. The dataset was collected using face-to-face interviews with diabetic patients aged ≥ 18 years. All participants attended clinics affiliated with an academic medical center or physician offices affiliated with a suburban hospital. Patients with type 1 diabetes and those with < 17 points on the Mini-Mental State Examination were excluded. English speaking ability was categorized as speaking English "not at all," "not well," "well," or "very well" based on patient self-report. A multivariable logistic regression model was used to examine the predictive relationship between English language skills and HbA1c levels, with covariates selected if they were significantly correlated with English language ability. The final regression model accounted for age, sex, education, annual income, health insurance status, duration of diabetes, birth in the United States, and years in the United States. Main outcome measure. HbA1c ≥ 7.0% as captured by chart review. Main results. Of the 167 patients, 38% reported speaking English very well, 21% reported speaking well, 26% reported speaking not very well, and 14% did not speak English at all. Reflecting immigration-sensitive patterns, patients who spoke English very well were younger and more likely to have graduated high school and have an annual income over $25,000 per year. Comorbidities and complications did not differ by English speaking ability except for diabetic eye disease, which was was more prevalent among those who did not speak English at all (42%, p = 0.04). Whether speaking ability was treated as a continuous or dichotomous variable, HbA1c levels formed a U-shaped curve: those who spoke English very well (odds ratio [OR] 2.32, 95% CI, 1.00-5.41) or not at all (OR 4.11, 95% CI 1.35-12.54) had higher odds of having an elevated HbA1c than those who spoke English well, although this was only statistically significant for those who spoke no English. In adjusted analyses, the U-shaped curve persisted with the highest odds among those who spoke English very well (OR 3.20, 95% CI 1.05-9.79) or not at all (OR 4.95, 95% CI 1.29-18.92). Conclusion. The relationship between English speaking ability and diabetes management is more complex than previously described. Interventions aimed at improving diabetes outcomes may need to be tailored to specific subgroups within the Latino population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-301
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Clinical Outcomes Management
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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