Purpose: To describe the baseline level of disease-specific knowledge in predominantly Latino patients with diabetes and in their family caregivers at an urban emergency department, and to elucidate characteristics which are associated with increased diabetes knowledge.
Methods: The 24-item Diabetes Knowledge Questionnaire (DKQ) was administered to a convenience sample of 291 primarily Latino adults in the emergency department who either had diabetes or who identified themselves as a caregiver for an immediate family member with diabetes. Participants with diabetes provided additional information on specific characteristics hypothesized to be associated with level of diabetes knowledge.
Results: Patients with diabetes received higher scores on the DKQ than their family caregivers (13.9 vs 12.3, P < .01). On univariate analysis self-monitoring of blood glucose, English language preference, longer time since diagnosis, and education at the high school level or above were associated with higher scores. However, on multivariate analysis only years since diagnosis and education reached statistical significance. The most frequently missed questions involved diet, signs of high/low blood sugar, organ function, and wound care.
Conclusions: Diabetes-specific knowledge was poor in both patients and primary family caregivers in our largely Latino urban emergency department patient population, highlighting the need for increased education in non-traditional settings. Based on our findings, this education should focus on areas of severe knowledge deficit including diet, symptoms of hyper- and hypoglycemia, and wound care. This study provides the foundation and justification for constructing effective and focused emergency department-based educational materials, thereby improving the knowledge and health of our patients.