OBJECTIVE: To evaluate access and utilization of medical care, and health status and outcomes that would be influenced by recent medical care, in a representative sample of patients with type 2 diabetes. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: A national sample of 733 adults with type 2 diabetes was studied from 1991 to 1994 in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Structured questionnaires and clinical and laboratory assessments were used to determine the frequencies of physician visits, health insurance coverage, screening for diabetes complications, treatment for hyperglycemia, hypertension, and dyslipidemia; and the proportion of patients who met treatment goals and established criteria for health outcome measures including hyperglycemia, albuminuria, obesity, hypertension, and dyslipidemia. RESULTS: Almost all patients had 1 source of primary care (95%), 2 or more physician visits during the past year (88%), and health insurance coverage (91%). Most (76%) were treated with insulin or oral agents for their diabetes, and 45% of those patients taking insulin monitored their blood glucose at least once per day The patients were frequently screened for retinopathy (52%), hypertension (88%), and dyslipidemia (84%). Of those patients with hypertension, 83% were diagnosed and treated with antihypertensive agents and only 17% were undiagnosed or untreated; most of the patients known to have dyslipidemia were treated with medication or diet (89%). Health status and outcomes were less than optimal: 58% had HbA1c >7.0, 45% had BMI >30, 28% had microalbuminuria, and 8% had clinical proteinuria. Of those patients known to have hypertension and dyslipidemia, 60% were not controlled to accepted levels. In addition, 22% of patients smoked cigarettes, 26% had to be hospitalized during the previous year, and 42% assessed their health status as fair or poor. CONCLUSIONS: Rates of health care access and utilization, screening for diabetes complications, and treatment of hyperglycemia, hypertension, and dyslipidemia in type 2 diabetes are high; however, health status and outcomes are unsatisfactory. There are likely to be multiple reasons for this discordance, including intractability of diabetes to current therapies, patient self-care practices, physician medical care practices, and characteristics of U.S. health care systems.

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