Aim: To compare the knowledge of diabetes, and diabetes education provision/preferences among European, Maori and Pacific Islands diabetic patients in south Auckland.
Method: The 331 European, 86 Maori and 123 Pacific Islands patients who were interviewed attended local diabetes services and a stratified subsample of general practitioners. Interviews included closed and open questions of diabetes knowledge, age, sex, diabetes treatment, employment status, weekly household income, school/further education received and the actual and preferred format of diabetes education.
Results: Pacific Islands patients knew least, and Europeans most, about diabetes from both open and closed diabetes knowledge questions. The majority of Pacific Islands patients could not name the nature, symptoms or complications of diabetes. This was unaffected by duration of diabetes, place of birth or time in New Zealand, although insulin treated Pacific Islands patients knew more than noninsulin treated patients (closed score 71 SD (4)% vs 61 SD (2)% p < 0.05). Pacific Islands patients were least likely to have received diabetes education (European 69%, Maori 70%, Pacific Islands 49%, p < 0.001). Knowledge scores were higher in those who had received education at diagnosis. Europeans were least likely to want further education (Europeans 52%, Maori 69%, Pacific Islands 63%, p < 0.01). The preferred sources for ongoing education were the lay educator/diabetes nurse specialist service (Europeans 28%, Maori 37%, Pacific Islands 76%), and the hospital based clinic among Europeans (27%) and Maori (36%). No Pacific Islands patients preferred a hospital based ongoing education service, while few diabetic patients of any ethnic group preferred to receive education via their general practitioner. In all ethnic groups, patients wanting more education knew more than those who did not.
Conclusion: The local delivery of diabetes education is uneven. Among Pacific Islands people, it is grossly inadequate. In order for all patients to receive such education, the diabetes services need to be better coordinated and integrated with primary health care.