Racial and ethnic disparities in diabetes complications in the northeastern United States: the role of socioeconomic status

J Natl Med Assoc. 2013 Spring;105(1):51-8. doi: 10.1016/s0027-9684(15)30085-7.


The role of socioeconomic status (SES) in explaining racial/ ethnic disparities in diabetes remains unclear. We investigated disparities in self-reported diabetes complications and the role of macro (eg, income, education) and micro (eg, owning a home or having a checking account) SES indicators in explaining these differences. The sample included individuals with a diagnosis of diabetes (N=795) who were aged, on average, 55 years, and 55.6% non-Hispanic white, 25.0% African American, and 19.4% Hispanic. Approximately 8% reported nephropathy, 35% reported retinopathy, and 16% reported cardiovascular disease. There were significant disparities in the rates of complications among non-Hispanic white, African American, and Hispanic participants, with Hispanic participants having the highest rates of nephropathy, retinopathy, and cardiovascular disease. Macro SES indicators (eg, income) mediated racial differences (ie, non-Hispanic whites vs African Americans) in self-reported retinopathy, a combination of macro and more micro SES indicators (eg, education, income, and ownirg a home or having a checking account) mediated racial/ethnic differences (ie, non-Hispanic white vs Hispanic participants) in self-reported cardiovascular disease, and only micro SES indicators (eg, owning a home or having a checking account) mediated differences between lower-income SES racial/ethnic minority groups (ie, African American vs Hispanic participants) in self-reported retinopathy and cardiovascular disease. Findings underscore that indicators of SES must be sensitive to the outcome of interest and the racial/ethnic groups being compared.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Complications / ethnology*
  • Ethnicity*
  • Female
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Morbidity / trends
  • New England / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Class