OBJECTIVE: To determine whether diabetes care characteristics and glycemic control differ by use of specialist care in a representative cohort of patients with type 1 diabetes. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: Health care, sociodemographic characteristics, and glycemic control were compared between participants in the Pittsburgh Epidemiology of Diabetes Complications Study who reported receiving specialist care (n = 212) and those who did not (n = 217). Specialist care was defined as having received care from an endocrinologist or diabetologist or diabetes clinic attendance during the last year. RESULTS: Patients who reported receiving specialist care were more likely to be female, to have an education level beyond high school, to have an annual household income >$20,000, and to have health insurance. Additionally, patients receiving specialist care were more likely to have received diabetes education during the previous 3 years, to have knowledge of HbAlc testing and to have received that test during the previous 6 months, to have knowledge of the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial results, to self-monitor blood glucose, and to inject insulin more than twice daily. A lower HbA1 level was associated with specialist care versus generalist care (9.7 vs. 10.3%; P = 0.0006) as were higher education and income levels. Multivariate analyses suggest that the lower HbA1 levels observed in patients receiving specialist care were restricted to patients with an annual income >$20,000. CONCLUSIONS: Specialist care was associated with higher levels of participation in diabetes self-care practices and a lower HbA1 level. Future efforts should research and address the failure of patients with low incomes to benefit from specialist care.

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