Factors associated with diabetic control and utilization patterns in a low-income, older adult population

Susan V. Hopper, Kenneth B. Schechtman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The importance to health educators of identification of factors associated with diabetic control is underscored by the prevalence of the disease and its physical, psychological and economic impacts, all of which appear greatest for the poor. An investigation of social, attitudinal, and physical characteristics of 161 low income, predominantly black and female diabetic clinic patients was conducted. Results indicate that the factors associated with poor control (higher mean fasting blood glucose) include being older, lack of belief in control over health, lack of belief in the efficacy of treatment, a belief that diabetes is less serious than three curable illnesses, reported lack of social support in a crisis with diabetes, reported low satisfaction with the clinic, and finally, higher levels of reported problems with the self-care regimen, particularly diet. Moreover, poor control was also significantly associated with an increase in the number of emergency room visits and clinic visits. Increased clinic visits were also significantly associated with younger age, a higher number of prescribed medications and the requirement for insulin therapy, higher knowledge scores, and two health beliefs, the belief that diabetes is more serious than curable illnesses, and the belief that the treatment is likely to help. More frequent emergency room visits were also associated with being white, a higher number of complications of the disease, and more reported problems with self care. A higher number of days hospitalized was significantly associated with more complications, lower satisfaction with the clinic, and lack of belief in control over health. The results suggest the potential usefulness of a number of activities by health educators to positively influence diabetes control and decrease negative utilization patterns, such as hospitalizations. These include education aimed at refocusing health beliefs to emphasize the individual's control outcomes as well as the efficacy of treatment, and behavioral training to increase practical dietary skills. Finally, altering structural characteristics of clinics to better meet patient needs, such as decreasing waiting times, may encourage patient efforts towards diabetic control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-288
Number of pages14
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1985


  • Diabetes
  • Diabetic control
  • Health beliefs
  • Patient characteristics
  • Utilization patterns


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