An improved understanding of which groups are more likely to be unaware of their diabetes may lead to more efficient screening, improved awareness, and overall better treatment for diabetes. Our objective was to investigate factors associated with being unaware of having diabetes among adults with diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes.
The 2011–2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) is a stratified, multistage probability survey representative of the civilian, noninstitutionalized U.S. population (1). Data were collected during an in-home interview and a visit to a mobile examination center. We used data from 1,879 participants with either diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes (based on a single measurement of A1C, fasting plasma glucose, or 2-h plasma glucose).
Using logistic regression, we calculated odds ratios of being unaware of diabetes associated with age, race/ethnicity, sex, gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), family history of diabetes, education, household income, smoking status, BMI, work-time activity, leisure-time activity, no health insurance, location of routine health care, no health care in the past year, hospitalization in the past year, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia. Initial models were unadjusted and subsequent models adjusted for all other variables. We repeated the analysis stratified by sex. Appropriate sample weights were used so that the sum added to the total civilian noninstitutionalized U.S. population (2).
Overall, 34.3% were unaware of their diabetes. In unadjusted models, compared with people aged 20–44 years, participants aged 45–64 years had 34% lower odds of being unaware of their diabetes (Table 1). Compared with non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic Asians had 75% higher odds and Hispanics of non–Mexican American descent had 69% higher odds of being unaware. In addition, a family history of diabetes, hospitalization in the past year, hypertension, health insurance, routine place for health care, and health care in the past year were associated with awareness. After adjustment, people with a family history of diabetes had about half the odds of being unaware, people who did not receive health care in the past year had approximately a sixfold higher odds of being unaware, and people who were hospitalized in the past year had one-third lower odds of being unaware.
Among men, having a family history of diabetes, having a BMI 25.0–29.9 kg/m2, and receiving no health care in the past year were associated with being unaware after adjustment. Among women, being of Mexican American or other Hispanic descent, having a family history of diabetes, receiving routine health care other than at a doctor’s office, and receiving no health care in the past year were associated with being unaware after adjustment.
Overall, approximately one-third of people with diabetes were undiagnosed/unaware of it. Non-Hispanic Asians and Hispanics of non–Mexican American descent were more likely to be unaware in unadjusted models but not after adjustment. In adjusted models, those with a family history of diabetes and those who had been hospitalized in the past year were less likely to be unaware, while those who received no health care in the past year were more likely to be unaware. Results were generally consistent when stratified by sex except that Mexican American and other Hispanic women were more likely to be unaware of their diabetes.
Some participants may have been misclassified, as a repeat measurement is recommended by the American Diabetes Association after a single positive test based on A1C, fasting plasma glucose, or 2-h plasma glucose; however, the NHANES only includes one study visit. Also, since participants self-reported many of the variables in our analysis, there may be inaccuracies.
Funding. This work was supported by National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases contract GS10F0381L.
Duality of Interest. No potential conflicts of interest relevant to this article were reported.
Author Contributions. A.M. and C.C.C. designed the study. A.M. conducted the statistical analysis and drafted the manuscript. S.C., M.L.A.-S., and C.C.C. guided the statistical analysis and critically revised the manuscript for important intellectual content. All authors approved the final manuscript. A.M. and C.C.C are the guarantors of this work and, as such, had full access to all the data in the study and take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.
The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.