Barriers to Technology Use and Endocrinology Care for Underserved Communities With Type 1 Diabetes

Diabetes Care. 2021 Jul;44(7):1480-1490. doi: 10.2337/dc20-2753. Epub 2021 May 17.


Objective: Disparities in type 1 diabetes related to use of technologies like continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) and utilization of diabetes care are pronounced based on socioeconomic status (SES), race, and ethnicity. However, systematic reports of perspectives from patients in vulnerable communities regarding barriers are limited.

Research design and methods: To better understand barriers, focus groups were conducted in Florida and California with adults ≥18 years old with type 1 diabetes with selection criteria including hospitalization for diabetic ketoacidosis, HbA1c >9%, and/or receiving care at a Federally Qualified Health Center. Sixteen focus groups were conducted in English or Spanish with 86 adults (mean age 42 ± 16.2 years). Transcript themes and pre-focus group demographic survey data were analyzed. In order of frequency, barriers to diabetes technology and endocrinology care included 1) provider level (negative provider encounters), 2) system level (financial coverage), and 3) individual level (preferences).

Results: Over 50% of participants had not seen an endocrinologist in the past year or were only seen once including during hospital visits. In Florida, there was less technology use overall (38% used CGMs in FL and 63% in CA; 43% used pumps in FL and 69% in CA) and significant differences in pump use by SES (P = 0.02 in FL; P = 0.08 in CA) and race/ethnicity (P = 0.01 in FL; P = 0.80 in CA). In California, there were significant differences in CGM use by race/ethnicity (P = 0.05 in CA; P = 0.56 in FL) and education level (P = 0.02 in CA; P = 0.90 in FL).

Conclusions: These findings provide novel insights into the experiences of vulnerable communities and demonstrate the need for multilevel interventions aimed at offsetting disparities in diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose
  • Blood Glucose Self-Monitoring
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1* / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1* / therapy
  • Endocrinology*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Technology


  • Blood Glucose