Diabetes care among Somali immigrants and refugees

J Community Health. 2012 Jun;37(3):680-4. doi: 10.1007/s10900-011-9499-7.


The risk for development of diabetes and associated complications among immigrants increases in the years after arrival to the United States. Somali immigrants and refugees represent the largest subset of African immigrants to the United States, yet little is known about the quality of their diabetes care. Therefore, adherence with diabetes quality indicators (Hemoglobin A1C <7%, LDL cholesterol <100 mg/dl, blood pressure <130/80 mm Hg) were compared between Somali and non-Somali patients with diabetes at a large academic primary care practice in the United States in 2008. Demographic and health-seeking behavior variables were assessed for association with adherence among the Somali population. A total of 5,843 non-Somali and 81 Somali patients with diabetes were identified. Somali patients with diabetes were less likely to meet the criteria for optimal glycemic control than non-Somali patients (40.6% vs. 53.9%; P=0.02). There was a similar, though statistically non-significant, trend towards lower rates of lipid control among Somali patients. There was no difference in achievement of optimal blood pressure between the two groups. There was a strong association between number of primary care visits during the study interval and achievement of all three diabetes care quality goals. This study demonstrates disparities in achievement of diabetes management quality goals among Somali patients compared with non-Somali patients, highlighting the need for additional system and practice changes to target this particularly vulnerable population.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure
  • Cholesterol, LDL / analysis
  • Diabetes Mellitus / ethnology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / therapy*
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Glycated Hemoglobin / analysis
  • Guideline Adherence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Healthcare Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Primary Health Care / standards
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care
  • Refugees / statistics & numerical data*
  • Somalia / ethnology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States
  • Young Adult


  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • hemoglobin A1c protein, human