Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Diabetes hospital deaths more likely for rural residents

Type 2 diabetes is a big cause for concern in rural America, especially in the South and Midwest, according to a study by the Southwest Rural Health Research Center at Texas A&M University. The study, funded by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, found that despite innovations and increasingly available self-management programs, big differences between rural and urban death rates remain: rural residents are 17 percent more likely to die from a diabetes-related hospitalization than people who live in large metropolitan areas.

More than 30 million adults, about 10 percent of the population, have diabetes; 97 percent of them have Type 2 diabetes. It's the seventh most common cause of death in the country, with nearly 80,000 related deaths in 2015. This study focused on diabetes deaths in hospitals in 2009-2014. Of the 38,075 diabetes-related deaths in hospitals, 20.3 percent occurred in rural areas. Death rates were highest in rural areas of the South and Midwest (21.0 and 15.1 per 100,000 population, respectively) compared to the Northeast and West (11.1 and 10.8, respectively). Nationally, a rural-urban difference of 3.4 percentage points amounted to a 17 percent difference in rural and urban rates.

The researchers speculated that the difference in death rates could be attributed to factors such as access to primary and endocrinology care, health literacy, trust in the health-care system, access to good nutrition, and lifestyle choices. They recommend that more research be done to explore the role of these factors in mortality discrepancies. 

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