To examine physician and patient adherence to prevention guidelines in non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) with attention to possible differences in adherence by patient race or ethnicity.
We performed a cross-sectional chart review study of prevention practices, complications, and risk factors in 378 NIDDM patients (at least 5 years known duration) who were Permanente Medical Care Program, Oakland, CA. There were 232 blacks, 81 whites, 29 Hispanics, and 36 members of other races/ethnicities.
Age- and duration-adjusted prevalence of 14 complications was low and, with the exception of diabetic retinopathy, did not differ significantly by race. An eight-point prevention score that reflected recommended use of glucose, HbA1c, high-density lipoprotein/total cholesterol, blood pressure and proteinuria testing, ophthalmology a and foot examinations, and diabetes education during a 2-year period did not differ by race/ethnicity (P = 0.36). The mean score (4.9 ± 1.6) indicated that on average, five of eight guidelines were performed appropriately. Compliance was poorest for annual proteinuria checks (32.2%). No differences were noted by race/ethnicity in referrals to ophthalmology, weight reduction, or smoking cessation or in missed appointments or failure to keep referral visits.
The absence of racial differences in either prevention practices or complication rates in this insured prepaid setting suggests that improved access to preventive services may be effective in reducing such differences nationally. However, adherence to several guidelines was ≤ 50%, indicating that physicians are not sufficiently convinced of the necessity for these prevention measures.