Objective: To examine the association of socioeconomic barriers, familial barriers, and clinical variables with health-related quality of life (HRQL).
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted of 186 African Americans with type 2 diabetes recruited from 2 primary care clinics in East Baltimore, Maryland. Physical functioning, social functioning, mental health, and general health were measured using the Medical Outcomes Study 36-item short form. Socioeconomic (money, housing, street crime) and familial (family problems, caretaker responsibilities) barriers were assessed by standardized interview. Insulin use, comorbid disease, and measured abnormalities in body mass index, hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), blood pressure, lipids, and renal function were investigated.
Results: Mean HRQL scores were: physical functioning, 61 +/- 29; social functioning, 76 +/- 26; mental health, 69 +/- 21; and general health, 48 +/- 21. Linear regression analyses revealed that each barrier to care was significantly associated with lower scores in 1 or more HRQL domain. As number of socioeconomic and familial barriers increased from 0 to 5, HRQL scores decreased by 18 for social functioning, 21 for general health, 23 for physical functioning, and 28 for mental health (all P for trend <.01). Clinical variables significantly associated with reduced HRQL were obesity, impaired renal function, insulin use, and comorbid disease. Blood pressure, lipids, and HbA1c were not significantly associated with HRQL.
Conclusions: An independent, graded relationship was found between socioeconomic and familial barriers to care and HRQL. This relationship was at least as strong as the association between HRQL and the clinical variables more likely to be perceived by participants as causing symptomatic distress or impacting lifestyle.