September 10, 2015
2 min read

Physicians more likely to ask Latinos with diabetes about emotional status

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Recent study findings published in BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care indicate that physicians are more likely to ask Latinos with diabetes about emotional problems vs. patients without diabetes.

“As Latinos continue to be one of the fastest growing ethnic minority groups in the [United States], it is expected that type 2 diabetes will continue to be a serious emotional and health burden for this group,” the researchers wrote. “Thus, addressing and engaging Latinos with culturally appropriate health care approaches is of great importance.”

Jeannie Belinda Concha, PhD, MPH, of the Virginia of Commonwealth University, and colleagues evaluated data from the National Latino and Asian American Study and the National Comorbidity Survey Replication Study on 3,076 Latino adults (median age, 39.8 years) with or without diabetes to determine the rates at which physicians ask them about emotional problems.

Participants were questioned about whether their physician asked them about any emotional problems, as well as their attitudes toward receiving professional help for any emotional problems.

Participants were divided into the following four subgroups based on having diabetes and mood disorder or anxiety: neither (n = 2,439), mood disorder or anxiety only (n= 371), diabetes only (n = 210) and both (n = 56).

Thirty-two percent of participants with diabetes were asked about emotional problems compared with 59% of those with diabetes and mood disorder or anxiety, and 36% of those with mood disorder or anxiety only.

Compared with participants without either condition, those with mood disorder or anxiety only (OR = 2.84; 95% CI, 2.02-4), diabetes only (OR = 1.69; 95% CI, 1.06-2.69) and both (OR = 6.67; 95% CI, 2.33-19.04) were most likely to be asked about emotional problems.

Compared with participants without diabetes, as well as those without mood disorder or anxiety, those with mood disorder or anxiety only reported they were less likely to be willing to see a professional for serious emotional problems (OR = 0.5; 95% CI, 0.35-0.7).

“In conclusion, this study indicates that having diabetes increases Latinos’ likelihood of being asked about emotional status, and provides suggestive evidence that the presence of diabetes is associated with more positive attitudes about mental health services,” the researchers wrote. “Given these results and the Latino health belief that strong emotions can cause diabetes, addressing emotional health may be a novel culture-centered clinical communication approach for discussions that are ‘responsive to the patient's preferences, needs and values’. Thus, asking Latinos with diabetes about their emotional status may provide clinicians with greater opportunity to engage with these patients and establish diabetes treatment goals that are culturally appropriate.” – by Amber Cox

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.