OBJECTIVE

To estimate difference in population-level glycemic control and the emergence of diabetes complications given a theoretical scenario in which non-White youth and young adults (YYA) with type 1 diabetes (T1D) receive and follow an equivalent distribution of diabetes treatment regimens as non-Hispanic White YYA.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS

Longitudinal data from YYA diagnosed 2002–2005 in the SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth Study were analyzed. Based on self-reported race/ethnicity, YYA were classified as non-White race or Hispanic ethnicity (non-White subgroup) versus non-Hispanic White race (White subgroup). In the White versus non-White subgroups, the propensity score models estimated treatment regimens, including patterns of insulin modality, self-monitored glucose frequency, and continuous glucose monitoring use. An analysis based on policy evaluation techniques in reinforcement learning estimated the effect of each treatment regimen on mean hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) and the prevalence of diabetes complications for non-White YYA.

RESULTS

The study included 978 YYA. The sample was 47.5% female and 77.5% non-Hispanic White, with a mean age of 12.8 ± 2.4 years at diagnosis. The estimated population mean of longitudinal average HbA1c over visits was 9.2% and 8.2% for the non-White and White subgroup, respectively (difference of 0.9%). Within the non-White subgroup, mean HbA1c across visits was estimated to decrease by 0.33% (95% CI −0.45, −0.21) if these YYA received the distribution of diabetes treatment regimens of the White subgroup, explaining ∼35% of the estimated difference between the two subgroups. The non-White subgroup was also estimated to have a lower risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, diabetic kidney disease, and peripheral neuropathy with the White youth treatment regimen distribution (P < 0.05), although the low proportion of YYA who developed complications limited statistical power for risk estimations.

CONCLUSIONS

Mathematically modeling an equalized distribution of T1D self-management tools and technology accounted for part of but not all disparities in glycemic control between non-White and White YYA, underscoring the complexity of race and ethnicity-based health inequity.

A.R.K. and T.P. are co-first authors.

M.R.K. and E.J.M.-D. are co-senior authors.

This article contains supplementary material online at https://doi.org/10.2337/figshare.16722094.

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