Poor numeracy skills are associated with glycaemic control in Type 1 diabetes

Diabet Med. 2012 May;29(5):662-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-5491.2011.03466.x.


Aims: To assess the numeracy and literacy skills of individuals with Type 1 diabetes and determine if there is a relationship with achieved glycaemic control independent of their duration of diabetes, diabetes education, demographic and socio-economic factors.

Methods: One hundred and twelve patients completed the study (mean current age 43.8 ± 12.5 years, 47% male, mean duration of diabetes 22.0 ± 13.2 years) out of 650 randomly selected patients from the Bournemouth Diabetes and Endocrine Centre's diabetes register. The Skills for Life Initial Assessments were used to measure numeracy and literacy. These indicate skills levels up to level 2, equivalent to the national General Certificate of Secondary Education grades A*-C. HbA(1c) was also measured. Pearson's correlation was used to measure the correlation of numeracy and literacy scores with HbA(1c.) To compare mean HbA(1c) between those with or without level 2 skills, t-tests were used, and multiple linear regression was used to investigate whether any differences were independent of duration of diabetes, diabetes education, demographic and socio-economic factors.

Results: Literacy was not associated with achieved HbA(1c). In contrast, participants with numeracy skills at level 2 or above achieved an HbA(1c) lower than those with numeracy skills below level 2 (P = 0.027). Although higher socio-economic status was associated with lower mean HbA(1c) , the relationship between numeracy and HbA(1c) appeared to be independent of socio-economic factors.

Conclusions: Low numeracy skills were adversely associated with diabetes control. Assessment of numeracy skills may be relevant to the structure of diabetes education programmes.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / blood*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / drug therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / epidemiology
  • Educational Status*
  • Female
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Self Care* / statistics & numerical data
  • Social Class
  • United Kingdom


  • Blood Glucose
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Hypoglycemic Agents