Clinical and medication profiles stratified by household income in patients referred for diabetes care

Cardiovasc Diabetol. 2007 Mar 30;6:11. doi: 10.1186/1475-2840-6-11.


Background: Low income individuals with diabetes are at particularly high risk for poor health outcomes. While specialized diabetes care may help reduce this risk, it is not currently known whether there are significant clinical differences across income groups at the time of referral. The objective of this study is to determine if the clinical profiles and medication use of patients referred for diabetes care differ across income quintiles.

Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted using a Canadian, urban, Diabetes Education Centre (DEC) database. Clinical information on the 4687 patients referred to the DEC from May 2000 - January 2002 was examined. These data were merged with 2001 Canadian census data on income. Potential differences in continuous clinical parameters across income quintiles were examined using regression models. Differences in medication use were examined using Chi square analyses.

Results: Multivariate regression analysis indicated that income was negatively associated with BMI (p < 0.0005) and age (p = 0.023) at time of referral. The highest income quintiles were found to have lower serum triglycerides (p = 0.011) and higher HDL-c (p = 0.008) at time of referral. No significant differences were found in HBA1C, LDL-c or duration of diabetes. The Chi square analysis of medication use revealed that despite no significant differences in HBA1C, the lowest income quintiles used more metformin (p = 0.001) and sulfonylureas (p < 0.0005) than the wealthy. Use of other therapies were similar across income groups, including lipid lowering medications. High income patients were more likely to be treated with diet alone (p < 0.0005).

Conclusion: Our findings demonstrate that low income patients present to diabetes clinic older, heavier and with a more atherogenic lipid profile than do high income patients. Overall medication use was higher among the lower income group suggesting that differences in clinical profiles are not the result of under-treatment, thus invoking lifestyle factors as potential contributors to these findings.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Canada
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus / drug therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / economics*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / metabolism
  • Diet
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Income / statistics & numerical data*
  • Life Style
  • Lipids / blood
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Poverty / statistics & numerical data*
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Triglycerides / blood


  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Lipids
  • Triglycerides