Type 1 Diabetes Self-Management Behaviors Among Emerging Adults: Racial/ethnic Differences

Pediatr Diabetes. 2020 Jun 7. doi: 10.1111/pedi.13061. Online ahead of print.


Background: Emerging adulthood is a vulnerable period for poor blood glucose control and self-management behaviors (SMBs) among individuals with type 1 diabetes. Racial/ethnic minority young adults have poorer glycemic outcomes than non-Hispanic whites; however, little is known about possible racial/ethnic differences in frequency of SMBs among emerging adults (EAs).

Objective: To examine racial/ethnic differences in SMBs and to determine associations between SMBs and blood glucose control.

Methods: A sample of EAs (ages 18-25 years; N = 3456) from the type 1 diabetes exchange registry was used to conduct multivariate analyses to examine (a) racial/ethnic differences in SMBs and (b) associations between SMBs and blood glucose control for each racial/ethnic group.

Results: Compared to non-Hispanic whites, African Americans and Hispanics less frequently took an insulin bolus for snacks, less frequently checked blood glucose with a meter, and were more likely to not use insulin to carbohydrate ratios. African Americans also less frequently checked blood glucose prior to mealtime boluses and more frequently missed insulin doses. SMBs that were associated with blood glucose control across groups were frequency of checking blood glucose at mealtime, missing an insulin dose, and checking blood glucose with a meter.

Conclusions: Promoting two SMBs: checking blood glucose and taking insulin doses as needed among African American EAs may be important to address racial disparities in glycemic outcomes. Future research should evaluate possible social and contextual mechanisms contributing to low engagement in these behaviors among African Americans to inform strategies to address racial differences in glycemic outcomes.

Keywords: United States; ethnic groups; self-report; type 1 diabetes; young adults.