Objectives: Determine psychosocial variables associated with the new diagnosis of diabetes in elderly women. Examine whether variables remained significant predictors after controlling for non-psychosocial risk factors and the frequency of doctor visits.
Research design and methods: A longitudinal cohort study was conducted using data from 10300 women who completed a survey in 1996 and 1999. The women were aged between 70 and 74 years of age in 1996. The were asked to provide self-reports on a number of psychosocial and non-psychosocial variables in 1996 and on whether they had been diagnosed for the first time with diabetes in the 3-year period. The relationships between the potential risk factors and new diagnosis of diabetes were examined using binary logistic regression analysis.
Results: Univariate results showed that not having a current partner, having low social support and having a mental health index score in the clinical range were all associated with higher risks of being diagnosed with diabetes for the first time. However the multivariate results showed that only a mental health index score in the clinical range and not having a current partner provided unique prediction of being newly diagnosed with diabetes. Of the non-psychosocial variables measured, only having a high BMI and hypertension were associated with increased risks of new diagnosis, while there was also evidence of a U shaped relationship between alcohol consumption and new diagnosis. Even after adjusting for frequency of doctor visits and non-psychosocial risk factors, a mental health index in the clinical range proved to still be a significant risk factor.
Conclusions: A score on the mental health index that is within the clinical range is an independent risk factor for the new diagnosis of diabetes in elderly women.