New studies from the University of California, San Francisco, reported by MedlinePlus, found these patients were less likely to take diabetes medication as directed. These findings suggest a need for more outreach for patients of all levels of English proficiency, because adherence to these medications is necessary for proper care.
Dr. Maria Pena, an endocrinologist who directs the Center for Weight Management at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said the results came as no surprise to her, and likely were par for the course for many other clinicians.
"Patients who do not understand English tend to do worse with management of chronic disease," Pena said in the release.
According to the study, more than 3.1 million Hispanic-Americans in the U.S. are living with type-2 diabetes and need medication every day. The study tracked more than 30,000 patients in California. Of that, more than 60 percent of the Spanish-speaking patients did not take newly-prescribed medications for diabetes as they were prescribed, versus only about 52 percent of English-speaking Hispanic participants in the study and less than 40 percent of white patients.
What's more, the study found blood sugar control could be improved for these patients, but only if they switched from an English-speaking primary care physician to a Spanish-speaking physician.
Pena said she believes these results would apply to "any disease that requires long-term monitoring and follow-up."
This study's results emphasize the need for health equity and outreach to minimize health disparities in our communities, both important topics at Jefferson County Public Health.
In Jefferson County, Colorado, 8.6 percent of individuals live below the poverty line. However, that number jumps to 12.6 percent when talking about children.
About the same number - 12.5 percent - of Jefferson County residents are food insecure, which means they don't have reliable access to a sufficient amount of healthy, affordable food. Only 1 in 10 children in Jefferson County eat the recommended two servings of fruits and three servings of vegetables per day. Less than half get the recommended amount of physical activity each day.
Without access to healthy foods, it's nearly impossible for minority communities to combat chronic illness, as poor diet and a lack of physical activity can lead to some of the most deadly killers in not only Jefferson County and Colorado, but the entire U.S., like diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
According to the National Institutes for Health, food insecurity makes managing diseases like diabetes much more difficult, and even more importantly, diabetes is more prevalent in food insecure households. According to a study published in 2015 in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, far more minority households in the U.S. are food insecure than the national average. In America, about 15 percent of homes are food insecure, compared to 25 percent of black, non-Hispanic homes and 26 percent of Latino households.
Es por eso que necesitamos todos los recursos posibles para cambiar esas estadísticas. Necesitamos acceso igual para todos. Para información en programas del Departamento de Salud Publica en Jefferson County, visita jeffco.us/public-health.