Diabetes care and outcomes: disparities across rural America

J Community Health. 2010 Aug;35(4):365-74. doi: 10.1007/s10900-010-9259-0.


We examined differences in receipt of diabetes care and selected outcomes between rural and urban persons living with diabetes, using nationally representative data from the 2006 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). "Rural" was defined as living in a non-metropolitan county. Diabetes care variables were physician visit, HbA1c testing, foot examination, and dilated eye examination. Outcome variables were presence of foot sores and diabetic retinopathy. Analysis was limited to persons 18 and older self-reporting a diagnosis of diabetes (n = 29,501). A lower proportion of rural than urban persons with diabetes reported a dilated eye examination (69.1 vs. 72.4%; P = 0.005) or a foot examination in the past year (70.6 vs. 73.7%; P = 0.016). Conversely, a greater proportion of rural than urban persons reported diabetic retinopathy (25.8 vs. 22.0%; P = 0.007) and having a foot sore taking more than four weeks to heal (13.2 vs. 11.2%; P = 0.036). Rural residence was not associated with receipt of services after individual characteristics were taken into account in adjusted analysis, but remained associated with an increased risk for retinopathy (OR = 1.20, 95% CI = 1.02-1.42). Participation in Diabetes Self-Management Education (DSME) was positively associated with all measures of diabetes care included in the study. Availability of specialty services and travel considerations could explain some of these differences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus / therapy*
  • Female
  • Healthcare Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Rural Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Rural Health*
  • United States
  • Urban Health
  • Urban Health Services / organization & administration
  • Young Adult