Hispanics more likely to struggle with diabetes misinformation

October 14, 2015

Partner with community-based organizations to implement quality diabetes programs for the Hispanic population.

Based on current and projected prevalence of diabetes among Hispanic populations, more quality diabetes care and education programs are needed to help Hispanics access screening services, according to a recent survey by the National Alliance for Hispanic Health [the Alliance]. This will reduce costs and improve outcomes so that patients are able to manage and control the condition before they develop complications.

“Managed care organizations need to partner in a meaningful way with community based organizations to implement culturally proficient programs on diabetes risk factors and symptoms at the local level,” according to Jane L. Delgado, PhD, MS, president and CEO of the Alliance.

The survey found:

  • More than half of the Hispanic respondents (64% of diabetics and 49% of non-diabetics) know someone with diabetes, mostly family members.
  • About 67% of Hispanic diabetics compared with only 53% of non-Hispanic white and non-Hispanic black diabetics stated that they worried that someone in their family would develop diabetes. Fewer than half of the non-diabetics of all racial/ethnic groups worried that a family member would develop diabetes.
  • Among 77% of Hispanic diabetics, health providers were the most trusted source of health information.
  • Only 72% of Hispanic diabetics could name at least one cause of diabetes, as compared with 86% of non-Hispanic white diabetics. Sugar intake/poor diet were the most cited causes (35%), followed by unhealthy weight (19%), genetics (18%), and lack of physical activity (11%). 
  • The majority of Hispanic diabetics (87%) believe a person can take actions to prevent diabetes compared to 80% of non-Hispanic white and 69% of non-Hispanic black diabetics. Among Hispanic diabetics, 74% believed you could take actions to prevent diabetes with healthy diet; 43% by being physically active; and, 16% by maintaining a healthy weight. Only 9% reported seeing a health provider regularly and 8% reported taking prescribed medication as ways to prevent diabetes.
  • Almost all Hispanic diabetics respondents (98%) believed that someone with diabetes could take actions to control it: eating a healthy diet (63%), being physically active (30%), and taking prescribed medication (35%) being the most cited.

“Findings from the survey show that there is a clear need for education efforts to reinforce the message that there are steps that can be taken to prevent and manage diabetes,” Delgado says. “Hispanics know about the risk of diabetes but it has been presented in such a negative way that people think it is inevitable.”

Additionally, the role of a regular source of care is key for people to be able to manage their diabetes, says Delgado. “As more home-based self-care alternatives become the norm there is a need for programs that teach people about these options."

“As communities become more aware about the need to increase physical activity and eat a healthy diet, these areas of intervention need to be a priority for diabetes prevention and management programs,” Delgado adds. “Many of the current evidence-based programs are too long and do not recognize the variables which impinge on the choices on underserved communities.

The interventions that have been developed by the Alliance will have a halo effect on other health concerns, according to Delgado.

The study was conducted for the National Alliance for Hispanic Health via telephone by Social Science Research Solutions, an independent research company. Interviews were conducted from September 18 to October 20, 2013 among a nationally representative sample of 770 respondents aged 18 years and older.