Regional, Geographic, and Racial/Ethnic Variation in Glycemic Control in a National Sample of Veterans With Diabetes

  1. Patrick D. Mauldin, PHD1,2,4
  1. 1Center for Disease Prevention and Health Interventions for Diverse Populations, Ralph H. Johnson Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Charleston, South Carolina
  2. 2Center for Health Disparities Research, Division of General Internal Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina
  3. 3Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina
  4. 4Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Outcome Sciences, South Carolina College of Pharmacy, Charleston, South Carolina
  1. Corresponding author: Leonard E. Egede, egedel{at}


OBJECTIVE We performed a retrospective analysis of a national cohort of veterans with diabetes to better understand regional, geographic, and racial/ethnic variation in diabetes control as measured by HbA1c.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS A retrospective cohort study was conducted in a national cohort of 690,968 veterans with diabetes receiving prescriptions for insulin or oral hypoglycemic agents in 2002 that were followed over a 5-year period. The main outcome measures were HbA1c levels (as continuous and dichotomized at ≥8.0%).

RESULTS Relative to non-Hispanic whites (NHWs), HbA1c levels remained 0.25% higher in non-Hispanic blacks (NHBs), 0.31% higher in Hispanics, and 0.14% higher in individuals with other/unknown/missing racial/ethnic group after controlling for demographics, type of medication used, medication adherence, and comorbidities. Small but statistically significant geographic differences were also noted with HbA1c being lowest in the South and highest in the Mid-Atlantic. Rural/urban location of residence was not associated with HbA1c levels. For the dichotomous outcome poor control, results were similar with race/ethnic group being strongly associated with poor control (i.e., odds ratios of 1.33 [95% CI 1.31–1.35] and 1.57 [1.54–1.61] for NHBs and Hispanics vs. NHWs, respectively), geographic region being weakly associated with poor control, and rural/urban residence being negligibly associated with poor control.

CONCLUSIONS In a national longitudinal cohort of veterans with diabetes, we found racial/ethnic disparities in HbA1c levels and HbA1c control; however, these disparities were largely, but not completely, explained by adjustment for demographic characteristics, medication adherence, type of medication used to treat diabetes, and comorbidities.


  • Received August 3, 2010.
  • Accepted January 20, 2011.

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