Stay at home orders, changes in business and clinic operations, and financial concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic may have affected how adults with diabetes obtained food, medications, medical care, and performed diabetes self-management. These impacts may be most pronounced among people in low-resource urban communities. We assessed the experiences of adults with type 2 diabetes participating in a federally-qualified health center diabetes management program. Of 72 patients called, 61 completed telephone surveys from July to October 2020 in Spanish and English. 74% of respondents were Latino with Spanish as their preferred language. Respondents’ mean age was 54 years, 62% were female, and 57% had less than a high school degree. Five patients reported testing positive for COVID-19, and 7 lived with someone who tested positive. Of 33 respondents who worked outside the home before COVID-19, 61% had lost their jobs or now worked fewer hours. When asked how diabetes management behaviors changed during the pandemic, 53% of respondents reported less physical activity, while 25% reported more. 18% reported eating less healthfully, while 38% reported eating more healthfully. 43% found it more difficult to obtain healthy food. 15% reported taking their medications more regularly, while 5% reported less. 61% reported increased difficulty accessing medical care. 41% felt more worried about being able to manage their diabetes during the pandemic and 49% felt more socially isolated. Changes in diabetes self-management behaviors related to COVID-19 were both positive and negative for patients in this low-resource urban setting. Programs supporting patients with diabetes could help patients adapt to pandemic changes by facilitating access to medications and health care, providing virtual support for self-management and other health habits, connecting patients with financial and food security concerns to community resources, and addressing stress and social isolation through virtual diabetes support groups.
M. Zupa: None. A. Rosland: None. S. Perez: None. G. Palmisano: None. E. C. Kieffer: None. G. Piatt: None. F. Valbuena: None. D. J. Deverts: None. J. Yabes: None. M. Heisler: None.
National Institutes of Health (R01DK116733)