Monitoring, treatment and control of blood glucose and lipids in Ontario First Nations people with diabetes

CMAJ. 2020 Aug 17;192(33):E937-E945. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.191039.


Background: Indigenous people worldwide are disproportionately affected by diabetes and its complications. We aimed to assess the monitoring, treatment and control of blood glucose and lipids in First Nations people in Ontario.

Methods: We conducted a longitudinal population-based study using administrative data for all people in Ontario with diabetes, stratified by First Nations status. We assessed age- and sex-specific rates of completion of recommended monitoring for low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and glycated hemoglobin (A1c) from 2001/02 to 2014/15. We used data from 2014/15 to conduct a cross-sectional analysis of rates of achievement of A1c and LDL targets and use of glucose-lowering medications.

Results: The study included 22 240 First Nations people and 1 319 503 other people in Ontario with diabetes. Rates of monitoring according to guidelines were 20%-50% for A1c and 30%-70% for lipids and were lowest for younger First Nations men. The mean age- and sex-adjusted A1c level was higher among First Nations people than other people (7.59 [95% confidence interval (CI) 7.57 to 7.61] v. 7.03 [95% CI 7.02 to 7.03]). An A1c level of 8.5% or higher was observed in 24.7% (95% CI 23.6 to 25.0) of First Nations people, compared to 12.8% (95% CI 12.1 to 13.5) of other people in Ontario. An LDL level of 2.0 mmol/L or less was observed in 60.3% (95% CI 59.7 to 61.6) of First Nations people, compared to 52.0% (95% CI 51.1 to 52.9) of other people in Ontario. Among those aged 65 or older, a higher proportion of First Nations people than other Ontarians were using insulin (28.1% v. 15.1%), and fewer were taking no medications (28.3% v. 40.1%).

Interpretation: As of 2014/15, monitoring and achievement of glycemic control in both First Nations people and other people in Ontario with diabetes remained suboptimal. Interventions to support First Nations patients to reach their treatment goals and reduce the risk of complications need further development and study.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / ethnology*
  • Female
  • Health Services, Indigenous / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Hypolipidemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Indigenous Peoples / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ontario
  • Patient Outcome Assessment
  • Population Surveillance


  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Glucose
  • Hypolipidemic Agents