Glycemic control, cognitive function, and family support among middle-aged and older Hispanics with diabetes: The Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos

Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2016 Jul:117:64-73. doi: 10.1016/j.diabres.2016.04.052. Epub 2016 May 6.


Aims: To examine among Hispanics in the U.S., a population with increased reliance on informal healthcare support structures, (1) the association between cognitive function and control of diabetes; and (2) whether this association is modified by family support.

Methods: The Digit Symbol Substitution Test (DSST), word fluency, and learning and delayed recall components of the Spanish English Verbal Learning Test were administered to 1794 Hispanic adults aged 45-76years with diagnosed diabetes. An executive function index and global cognitive function index (GCFI) were derived. Uncontrolled diabetes (HbA1c⩾7% [53mmol/mol]) was compared across quartiles of cognitive function using multivariable logit models with interaction terms for cognitive function and family support.

Results: After adjustment, lower DSST scores were associated with uncontrolled diabetes (P=0.03). Family support modified the relationship between other measures of cognition and diabetes control (Pinteraction: 0.002, 0.09). Among individuals with low family support, as cognitive function declined, the odds of uncontrolled diabetes increased (P-trend across quartiles of the GCFI, 0.015). Among those with low family support, persons in the lowest quartile of global cognitive function were more than twice as likely to have uncontrolled diabetes as those in the highest performing quartile (OR=2.31; 95% CI: 1.17, 4.55). There was no similar effect among those with high family support.

Conclusions: Family support may buffer the negative association between low cognitive functioning and diabetes control in US Hispanics/Latinos. Educational programs targeted at family members of middle-age and older persons with diabetes regardless of neurocognitive status may help improve population-level glycemic control.

Keywords: Cognitive function; Diabetes; Glycemic control; Hispanic; Social support.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Counseling
  • Diabetes Mellitus / ethnology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / physiopathology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / psychology
  • Family / psychology*
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / epidemiology*
  • Hypoglycemia / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control
  • Young Adult


  • Blood Glucose