This analysis describes the association of health and functional status with private and public religious practice among ethnically diverse (African American, Native American, white) rural older adults with diabetes.
Data were collected using a population-based, cross-sectional, stratified, random sample survey of 701 community-dwelling elders with diabetes in two rural North Carolina counties. Outcome measures were private religious practice, church attendance, religious support provided, and religious support received. Correlates included religiosity, health and functional status, and personal characteristics. Statistical significance was assessed using multiple linear regression and logistic regression models.
These rural elders had high levels of religious belief, and private and public religious practice. Religiosity was associated with private and public religious practice. Health and functional status were not associated with private religious practice, but they were associated with public religious practice, such that those with limited functional status participated less in public religious practice. Ethnicity was associated with private religious practice: African Americans had higher levels of private religious practice than Native Americans or whites, while Native Americans had higher levels than whites.
Variation in private religious practice among rural older adults is related to personal characteristics and religiosity, while public religious practice is related to physical health, functional status and religiosity. Declining health may affect the social integration of rural older adults by limiting their ability to participate in a dominant social institution.
rural aging; minority aging; chronic disease; diabetes; religious participation; religiosity; social integration
Residents in rural communities in the United States, especially ethnic minority group members, have limited access to primary and specialty health care that is critical for diabetes management. This study examines primary and specialty medical care utilization among a rural, ethnically diverse, older adult population with diabetes.
Data were drawn from a cross-sectional face-to-face survey of randomly selected African American (n = 220), Native American (n = 181), and white (n = 297) Medicare beneficiaries ≥65 years old with diabetes in 2 rural counties in central North Carolina. Participants were asked about utilization of a primary care doctor and of specialists (nutritionist, diabetes specialist, eye doctor, bladder specialist, kidney specialist, heart specialist, foot specialist) in the past year.
Virtually all respondents (99.0%) reported having a primary care doctor and seeing that doctor in the past year. About 42% reported seeing a doctor for diabetes-related care. On average, participants reported seeing 2 specialists in the past year, and 54% reported seeing >1 specialist. Few reported seeing a diabetes specialist (5.7%), nutritionist (10.9%), or kidney specialist (17.5%). African Americans were more likely than others to report seeing a foot specialist (P<.01), while men were more likely than women to have seen a bladder specialist (P =.02), kidney specialist (P =.001), and heart specialist (P =.004), after adjusting for potential confounders. Predictors of the number of specialists seen include gender, education, poverty status, diabetes medication use, and self-rated health.
These data indicate low utilization of specialty diabetes care providers across ethnic groups and reflect the importance of primary care providers in diabetes care in rural areas.
This analysis describes physical activity levels and factors associated with physical activity in an ethnically diverse (African American, Native American, white) sample of rural older adults with diabetes.
Data were collected using a population-based, cross-sectional stratified random sample survey of 701 community-dwelling elders with diabetes completed in 2 rural North Carolina counties. Outcome measures were as follows: first, physical activity in the past year, and second, days physically active in the prior week (0-7). Potential correlates included personal and health characteristics and were evaluated for statistical significance using logistic regression models.
About half (52.5%) of the participants stated that they had engaged in physical activity in the past year. Among those, 42.5% stated that they had no days with at least 30 minutes of continuous physical activity in the prior week, while 21.5% reported daily physical activity. Common activities were walking and housework. Correlates of physical activity in the past year and days active in the prior week included measures of physical health and mobility.
Physical activity in this ethnically diverse sample of rural elders with diabetes is limited. Effort must be invested to increase physical activity in these groups.
To assess the association of depressive symptoms with diabetes self-management regimens among older adults with type 2 diabetes in a rural, ethnically diverse community.
Data from 696 rural older African Americans, American Indians and whites were used to assess depressive symptoms (modified CES-D) and diabetes self-management (physical activity, blood glucose self-monitoring, self foot checks, following a healthful eating plan, and medication adherence).
In bivariate analyses, high CES-D scores were associated with decreased adherence to a healthful eating plan and physical activity, and increased foot checks; the latter 2 remained significant in multivariate analyses.
Older adults with diabetes and depression are less likely to adhere to self-management, increasing their risk of complications.
depressive symptoms; type 2 diabetes; African Americans; American Indians; diabetes self-management
The purposes of this study were to assess the level of foot self-care performed in a rural, multiethnic population of older adults and to identify factors associated with foot self-care.
The Evaluating Long-term Diabetes Self-management Among Elder Rural Adults study included a random sample of 701 African American, Native American, and white adults from 2 rural North Carolina counties. Participants completed in-home interviews, 5 foot self-care practices from the Summary of Diabetes Self-Care Activities (SDSCA), functional status measures, and measures of education and support for foot care.
Foot care practices/behaviors reported at least 6 days/week ranged from 35.6% for inspecting shoes to 79.2% for not soaking feet. Four independent predictors of the SDSCA summary foot care index score were observed: having been shown how to care for feet (P < .0001), female gender (P = .03), having had a doctor check nerves in feet in past year (P = .02), and not receiving support caring for feet (P = .0425).
These findings indicate that educating patients about foot self-care may encourage routine foot care but that those dependent on either formal or informal support to perform foot care do so less frequently than those who perform it independently.
This study describes complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use among rural older adults with diabetes, delineates the relationship of health self-management predictors to CAM therapy use, and furthers conceptual development of CAM use within a health self-management framework.
Survey interview data were collected from a random sample of 701 community dwelling African American, Native American, and White elders residing in two rural North Carolina counties. We summarize CAM use for general use and for diabetes care and use multiple logistic modeling to estimate the effects of health self-management predictors on use of CAM therapies.
The majority of respondents used some form of CAM for general purpose, whereas far fewer used CAM for diabetes care. The most widely used CAM categories were food home remedies, other home remedies, and vitamins. The following health self-management predictors were related to the use of different categories of CAM therapies: personal characteristics (ethnicity), health status (number of health conditions), personal resources (education), and financial resources (economic status).
CAM is a widely used component of health self-management among rural among older adults with diabetes. Research on CAM use will benefit from theory that considers the specific behavior and cognitive characteristics of CAM therapies.
Glycemic control is a predictor of diabetes-related morbidity and mortality. However, little is known about how well older adults in rural communities, with limited access to self-care resources and specialty care practitioners, control their diabetes. Even less is known about whether minority, older, rural adults are at increased risk for poor glycemic control. We analyzed data from a cross-sectional survey of randomly selected older (≥65 years) adults with type 2 diabetes in rural North Carolina. Participants (N=693) were men and women from three ethnic groups: African American, Native American, and White. Capillary blood samples were collected for HbA1C analysis. HbA1C levels (<7%, 7%–<8%, and ≥8%) were compared across ethnic and gender groups. Two multiple logistic regression models (model 1: personal characteristics; model 2: personal and health characteristics) were used to evaluate potential predictors of HbA1C ≥7%. Overall, 36.4% had HbA1C ≥7%. Native Americans and African-American men had the highest proportion at levels of poor glycemic control (≥7%), and African-American women and White men had the lowest. In bivariate analysis, ethnicity, living arrangements, use of medications for diabetes, having a diabetes-related healthcare visit in the past year, and duration of diabetes were significantly associated with glycemic control. In multivariate analysis (model 1), being Native American, having low income without Medicaid, and being married were associated with poor glycemic control. Adding health characteristics (model 2), longer diabetes duration and diabetes medication therapy were significant predictors. These data indicate that older ethnic minorities in rural communities are at increased risk for diabetes complications and need diabetes management strategies to improve glycemic control.
African Americans; Elderly; Diabetes; Ethnicity; Glycosylated Hemoglobin; Health Disparities; Native Americans; Rural
Falls are a recognized danger for older adults with diabetes. Persons in rural communities with diabetes may face additional risks from falling due to environmental and activity differences.
Data were obtained in a cross-sectional survey of a stratified random sample of 691 community-dwelling adults (42.7% white, 31.4% African American, and 25.9% Native American) at least 65 years old with two or more Medicare claims for diabetes in 1998–2000, living in two rural counties in North Carolina. Falls data were self-reported for the previous year. Demographic data, foot-related symptoms, diabetes medications, and other health characteristics were reported.
Three hundred two persons (43.7%) reported falling at least once, including 171 (26.2%) who experienced two or more (frequent) falls. Frequent fallers were more likely to be male (odds ratio [OR] = 1.76; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.17, 2.66), report tingling or numbness in feet (OR = 1.75; 95% CI = 1.13, 2.70), have had a stroke (OR = 1.81; 95% CI = 1.19, 2.76), have longer duration of diabetes (OR = 1.21; 95% CI = 1.00, 1.47), have lower physical functioning (OR = 0.97; 95% CI = 0.96, 0.99) and mobility (OR = 0.89; 95% CI = 0.82, 0.96), and take a greater number of prescription medications (OR = 1.07; 95% CI = 1.01, 1.13).
For rural older adults with diabetes, falls history should be screened to identify those at risk. Further research should investigate unique environmental factors contributing to falls for rural elderly persons.
Diabetes mellitus disproportionately affects ethnic minorities and has serious economic, social, and personal implications. This study examines the effect of diabetes disease burden and social resources on health-related quality of life (HRQOL) among older rural adults with diabetes. Data come from a population-based cross-sectional survey of 701 adults (age ≥65 years) with diabetes in North Carolina from three ethnic groups: African American, Native American, and White. HRQOL was assessed using the 12-item short-form health survey (SF-12). Mean scores were 35.1 ± 11.4 and 50.5 ± 10.8 for the physical and mental components of the SF-12, respectively. In bivariate analyses, scores were significantly lower for Native Americans than Whites for both components. In multivariate analyses, higher physical HRQOL was associated with male sex, greater mobility ability, fewer chronic conditions, exercising vs not exercising, fewer depressive symptoms, and not receiving process assistance. Higher mental HRQOL was associated with greater mobility ability, fewer chronic conditions, and a high school education or more. Diabetes appears to have a substantial effect on physical HRQOL. Physical disability associated with diabetes may have a greater impact in the rural environment than in other areas. Aspects of rural social milieu may help to keep mental HRQOL high, even in the face of severe chronic disease. Ethnic differences in HRQOL are largely accounted for by diabetes disease burden and, to a lesser extent, social resources. Strategies to reduce diabetes-related complications (long term) and assist mobility (short term) may reduce ethnic disparities in HRQOL. (Ethn Dis. 2007;17:471–476)
African Americans; Diabetes; Quality of Life; Native Americans; Rural; Minority Health
Dietary self-management of diabetes is often difficult for older adults to practice, particularly in rural communities. We describe patterns and correlates of dietary fat reduction among older rural adults with diabetes of any type. In-home interviews were conducted with a multiethnic random sample of 701 adults ≥65 with diabetes from two North Carolina counties. The Fat and Fiber Behavior Questionnaire was used to measure dietary behaviors. Separate multiple linear regressions assessed effects of gender, ethnicity, and diabetes education. In general, scores were more favorable for practices that involved modifying food preparation (e.g., avoiding frying) and less favorable for practices that involved changing foods consumed (e.g., substituting fruits and vegetables as desserts or snacks). American Indians and African Americans had less favorable scores than whites, and diabetes education was associated with greater fat restriction for women than men. Older men and ethnic minorities with diabetes should be targeted for dietary change education.
diabetes; African Americans; American Indians; gender differences; diet; self-management
People with diabetes must engage in several self-care activities to manage blood glucose; cognitive function and other affective disorders may affect self-care behaviors. We examined the executive function domain of cognition, depressive symptoms, and symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) to determine which common mental conditions that can co-occur with diabetes are associated with blood glucose levels.
We conducted a cross-sectional in-person survey of 563 rural older adults (age 60 years or older) with diabetes that included African Americans, American Indians, and Whites from eight counties in south-central North Carolina. Hemoglobin A1C (A1C) was measured from a finger-stick blood sample to assess blood glucose control. Executive function, depressive symptoms, and symptoms of GAD were assessed using established measures and scoring procedures. Separate multivariate linear regression models were used to examine the association of executive function, depressive symptoms, and symptoms of GAD with A1C.
Adjusting for potential confounders including age, gender, education, ethnicity, marital status, history of stroke, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes knowledge, and duration of diabetes, executive function was significantly associated with A1C levels: every one-unit increase in executive function was associated with a 0.23 lower A1C value (p = 0.02). Symptoms of depression and GAD were not associated with A1C levels.
Low executive function is potentially a barrier to self-care, the cornerstone of managing blood glucose levels. Training aids that compensate for cognitive impairments may be essential for achieving effective glucose control.
A1C; cognitive function; depression; anxiety; aging
Type 2 diabetes constitutes a leading and increasing cause of morbidity and mortality among older adults, particularly African Americans, Native Americans, Mexican Americans, and rural dwellers. To understand diabetes self-care, an essential determinant of diabetic and overall health outcomes, 80 middle aged and older adults from these four disproportionately affected racial/ethnic/residential groups engaged in in-depth interviews, focusing on approaches to and explanations for diabetes self-care. Certain self-care activities (medication-taking, diet, foot care) were performed regularly while others (blood glucose monitoring, exercise) were practiced less frequently. Despite research suggestions to the contrary, only one in four elders used unconventional diabetes therapies, and only one-third listed someone other than a health care provider as a primary information source. Few self-care differences emerged according to race/ethnicity/residence, perhaps because of the influential and common circumstance of low income. Thematic analyses suggest that inadequate resources, perceived efficacy of medication, great respect for biomedical authority, and lack of familiarity with and concerns about unconventional therapies are influential in establishing these patterns of self-care. We discuss the similarity of self-care practices and perspectives irrespective of race/ethnicity/residence and the predominance of biomedical acceptability.
Type 2 diabetes; African Americans; Mexican Americans; Native Americans; Rural residents; Self-care
The purpose of the study was to describe self-monitoring of blood
glucose (SMBG) practices of 698 older adults with type 2 diabetes in the
rural Southeast, to identify characteristics differentiating testers from
nontesters, and to identify personal and support-related predictors of
The ELDER (Evaluating Long-term Diabetes Self-management Among
Elderly Rural Adults) study was a population-based, cross-sectional survey
of African American, Native American, and white Medicare recipients
≥65 years with diagnosed diabetes. Data were obtained through
in-home interviews. Multiple logistic regression models were used to
identify factors associated with SMBG and frequency of monitoring.
Seventy-seven percent of respondents practiced SMBG in the previous
week; 40% tested every day in that week. No ethnic differences were seen.
Significant independent predictors of any SMBG were medication regimen
(taking oral agents or insulin with or without oral agents) and health care
provider (HCP) recommendation to test. Among those monitoring, significant
independent predictors of SMBG frequency were medication regimen, HCP
recommendation to test, duration of diabetes, and receiving help with
testing, which was negatively associated with monitoring frequency.
Among rural older persons with diabetes, HCP recommendation
significantly affected practicing SMBG and SMBG frequency. These findings
suggest points of intervention by diabetes educators with this vulnerable
population. Further research is needed to determine how older adults use
SMBG data in their self-care regimen.
Racial and ethnic disparities in diabetes and subsequent complications are often attributed to culture; however, previous diabetes disparities research is restricted to in-depth ethnic-specific samples or to comparative study designs with limited belief assessment. The goal of this study is to improve understanding of the cultural basis for variation in diabetes beliefs.
Rural North Carolina
Older adults (aged 60+) with diabetes, equally divided by ethnicity (White, African American, American Indian) and gender (N=593).
Guided by Explanatory Models of Illness and Cultural Consensus research traditions, trained interviewers collected data using 38 items in four diabetes belief domains: causes, symptoms, consequences, and medical management. Items were obtained from the Common Sense Model of Diabetes Inventory (CSMDI).
Beliefs about diabetes. Response options for each diabetes belief item were “agree,” “disagree” and “don’t know”. Collected data were analyzed using Anthropac (version 4.98) and Latent Gold (version 4.5) programs.
There is substantial similarity in diabetes beliefs among African Americans, American Indians, and Whites. Diabetes beliefs were most similar in the “symptoms” and “consequences” domains compared to beliefs pertaining to “causes” and “medical management.” Although some discrete beliefs differed by ethnicity, systematic differences by ethnicity were observed for specific educational groups.
Socioeconomic conditions influence diabetes beliefs rather than “ethnicity” per se.
Diabetes Beliefs; Explanatory Models of Illness; Cultural Consensus; Ethnic Differences; Health Disparities
Older adults are particularly vulnerable to the effects of depression, however, they are less likely to seek and engage in mental health treatment. African-American older adults are even less likely than their White counterparts to seek and engage in mental health treatment. This qualitative study examined the experience of being depressed among African-American elders and their perceptions of barriers confronted when contemplating seeking mental health services. In addition, we examined how coping strategies are utilized by African-American elders who choose not to seek professional mental health services.
A total of 37 interviews were conducted with African-American elders endorsing at least mild symptoms of depression. Interviews were audiotaped and subsequently transcribed. Content analysis was utilized to analyze the qualitative data.
Thematic analysis of the interviews with African-American older adults is presented within three areas: (1) Beliefs about Depression Among Older African-Americans: (2) Barriers to Seeking Treatment for Older African-Americans: and (3) Cultural Coping Strategies for Depressed African-American Older Adults.
Older African-Americans in this study identified a number of experiences living in the Black community that impacted their treatment seeking attitudes and behaviors. which led to identification and utilization of more culturally endorsed coping strategies to deal with their depression. Findings from this study provide a greater understanding of the stigma associated with having a mental illness and its influence on attitudes toward mental health services.
depression; beliefs/attitudes; health service use; stigma; aging
This analysis examines the associations of oral health with social integration among ethnically diverse (African American, American Indian, white) rural older adults. Data are from a cross-sectional survey of 635 randomly selected community-dwelling adults aged 60+. Measures include self-rated oral health, number of teeth, number of oral health problems, social engagement, and social network size. Minority elders have poorer oral health than do white older adults. Most rural elders have substantial social engagement and social networks. Better oral health (greater number of teeth) is directly associated with social engagement, while the relationship of oral health to social network size is complex. The association of oral health with social engagement does not differ by ethnicity. Poorer oral health is associated with less social integration among African American, American Indian and white elders. More research on the ways oral health affects the lives of older adults is warranted.
Oral health disparities; social engagement; social network; rural aging
The prevalence of type 2 diabetes among non-Hispanic African American adults aged 20 years and older is 11.4%, compared to 8.4% non-Hispanic whites. Given the high rate of diabetes in this population, it is important to determine whether African Americans use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), and if so, what kind. Such information is important to healthcare professionals who prescribe therapies and make self-care recommendations to those with diabetes. The use of CAM by African Americans with diabetes has not been well studied, however, particularly among those living in rural areas. This descriptive study was conducted in 2 rural communities in Central Virginia to explore the use of CAM therapies and the role of religion and spirituality in dealing with diabetes among adult African Americans with type 2 diabetes. Sixty-eight participants attended 1 of 8 focus group sessions in various community settings and described their use of alternative therapies. According to these sessions, the most common alternative therapies used are prayer, diet-based therapies, and natural products. The participants’ descriptions enhance our understanding of CAM use among rural African Americans with diabetes.
To compare oral health status by ethnicity and socioeconomic status among African American (AA), American Indian (AI), and white dentate and edentulous community-dwelling older adults.
Cross-sectional study; data from self-reports and oral examinations.
A multi-stage cluster sampling design was used to recruit 635 participants aged 60+ from rural North Carolina counties with substantial AA and AI populations.
Participants completed in-home interviews and oral examinations. Self-reported data included socio-demographic indicators, self-rated oral health status, and presence/absence of periodontal disease, bleeding gums, oral pain, dry mouth, and fit of prostheses. Oral examination data included number of teeth and numbers of anterior and posterior functional occlusal units.
Compared to whites, AAs and AIs had significantly lower incomes and educational attainment. Self-rated oral health was significantly higher in whites, compared to both AAs and AIs. Prevalence of self-reported periodontal disease and bleeding gums was lower in whites. Among dentate participants, AAs were significantly more likely than whites to have moderately reduced numbers of teeth (11–20 teeth) and posterior occlusal contacts. Oral health deficits remained associated with ethnicity when adjusted for socioeconomic variables.
Oral health disparities in older adults in a multi-ethnic rural area are largely associated with ethnicity and not socioeconomic status. Clinicians should be aware of these health disparities in oral health status and their possible role in disparities in chronic disease. Further research is necessary to understand whether these oral health disparities reflect current or lifetime access to care, diet, or attitudes toward oral health care.
Knowing a patient’s health literacy can help clinicians and researchers anticipate a patient’s ability to understand complex health regimens and deliver better patient-centered instructions and information. Poor health literacy has been linked with lower ability to function adequately in health care systems.
We evaluated and compared three measures of health literacy and performance among older patients with diabetes.
Cross-sectional study utilizing in-person interviews conducted in participants’ homes.
A tri-ethnic sample (n = 563) of African American, American Indian, and white older adults with diabetes from eight counties in south-central North Carolina.
Participants completed interviews and health literacy assessments using the Short-Form Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults (S-TOFHLA), the Rapid Estimates of Adult Literacy in Medicine Short-Form (REALM-SF), or the Newest Vital Signs (NVS). Scores for reading comprehension and numeracy were calculated.
Over 90% completed the S-TOFHLA numeracy and approximately 85% completed the S-TOFHLA reading and REALM-SF. Only 73% completed the NVS. The correlation of S-TOFHLA total scores with REALM-SF and NVS were 0.48 and 0.54, respectively. Age, gender, ethnic, educational and income differences in health literacy emerged for several instruments, but the pattern of results across the instruments was highly variable.
A large segment of older adults is unable to complete short-form assessments of health literacy. Among those who were able to complete assessments, the REALM-SF and NVS performed comparably, but their relatively low convergence with the S-TOFHLA raises questions about instrument selection when studying health literacy of older adults.
health literacy; older adults; diabetes
To examine the relationship that international medical school graduates (IMGs) in comparison with United States medical school graduates (USMGs) have on health care-seeking behavior and satisfaction with medical care among African-American and white elderly.
Secondary data analysis of the 1986–1998 Piedmont Health Survey of the Elderly, Established Populations for the Epidemiological Study of the Elderly, a racially oversampled urban and rural cohort of elders in five North Carolina counties.
Primary focus of analyses examined the impact of the combination of elder race and physician graduate status across time using a linear model for repeated measures analyses and χ2 tests. Separate analyses using generalized estimating equations were conducted for each measure of elder characteristic and health behavior. The analytic cohort included 341 physicians and 3,250 elders (65 years old and older) in 1986; by 1998, 211 physicians and 1,222 elders.
Data Collection/Extraction Methods
Trained personnel collected baseline measures on 4,162 elders (about 80 percent responses) through 90-minute in-home interviews.
Over time, IMGs treated more African-American elders, and those who had less education, lower incomes, less insurance, were in poorer health, and who lived in rural areas. White elders with IMGs delayed care more than those with USMGs. Both races indicated being unsure about where to go for medical care. White elders with IMGs were less satisfied than those with USMGs. Both races had perceptions of IMGs that relate to issues of communication, cultural competency, ageism, and unnecessary expenses.
IMGs do provide necessary and needed access to medical care for underserved African Americans and rural populations. However, it is unclear whether concerns regarding cultural competency, communication and the quality of care undermine the contribution IMGs make to these populations.
African-American elderly; international medical school graduate physicians; United States medical school graduate physicians; satisfaction with medical care; health care-seeking behavior
Purpose: Dietary variation is important for health maintenance and disease prevention among older adults. However, oral health deficits impair ability to bite and chew foods. This study examines the association between oral health and foods avoided or modified in a multiethnic rural population of older adults. It considers implications for nutrition and medical service provision to this population. Design and Methods: In-home interviews and oral examinations were conducted with 635 adults in rural North Carolina counties with substantial African American and American Indian populations. Avoidance and modification data were obtained for foods representing different dental challenges and dietary contributions. Data were weighted to census data for ethnicity and sex. Bivariate analyses of oral health measures and foods avoided used chi-square and logistic regression tests. Multivariable analyses used proportional odds or nominal regression models. Results: Whole fruits and raw vegetables were the most commonly avoided foods; substantial proportions of older adults also avoided meats, cooked vegetables, and other foods. Food avoidance was significantly associated with self-rated oral health, periodontal disease, bleeding gums, dry mouth, having dentures, and having fewer anterior and posterior occlusal contacts. Associations persisted when controlling for demographic and socioeconomic status indicators. From 24% to 68% of participants reported modifying specific fruits, vegetables, and meats. Modifying harder foods was related to location of teeth and periodontal disease and softer foods to oral pain and dry mouth. Implications: Food services for older adults should consider their oral health status. Policy changes are needed to provide oral health care in benefits for older adults.
Nutrition; Elderly; Rural; Dentition; Dentures; Congregate meals programs
This study documents demographic, health, and complementary therapy (CT) correlates of medical skepticism among rural older adults.
Older (≥65 years) African Americans and Whites in rural North Carolina (N=198) were interviewed. Medical skepticism was assessed using the four items from the Medical Expenditure Survey. Bivariate associations between medical skepticism and demographic and health characteristics and CT use were assessed, and independent effects on CT use.
Positive responses to medical skepticism questions ranged from 19.7% (can overcome illness without help) to 59.6% (believes own behavior determines their health). Medical skepticism indicators were associated with few demographic and health characteristics, and one CT category.
This study shows a high degree of medical skepticism among rural older adults, but limited associations with demographic and health characteristics and CT use. Further research is needed to understand relationships of attitudes towards conventional care and CT use in this population.
Medical skepticism; complementary therapies; rural older adults; African Americans
CONTEXT: The reasons for African-American men to seek care for lower urinary care symptoms has not been determined due to sparse population-based data. OBJECTIVE: Our study examines the solicitation and receipt of medical care for urinary symptoms among racially oversampled elderly urban and rural cohort of African Americans and whites. DESIGN: Longitudinal analyses were conducted on five North Carolina counties through the Piedmont Health Survey of the Elderly Established Populations for the Epidemiological Study of the Elderly. In 1994, the analytic cohort included 482 African Americans and 407 whites; by 1998, 249 and 222, respectively. RESULTS: In 1994, 49.4% of African Americans presented with lower urinary tract symptoms compared to 56.8% of whites. By 1998, these percentages increased to 60.6% and 70.3%, respectively. African Americans reported more interference with activities of daily living than whites. African Americans were less likely than whites to have regular digital rectal exams (DRE) and were more likely to have never received a DRE at all. Additionally, elders with less educational attainment, those who smoked, those who delayed care quite often and those who used less-experienced physicians were less likely to receive regular DREs. CONCLUSION: Poor health behavior has the greatest impact on healthcare seeking for lower urinary tract symptoms. These health behavior risk factors are systemic of a lack of health education. Increases in health education among African Americans regarding lower urinary tract symptoms may close the racial disparity in healthcare-seeking behaviors.
Diabetes self-management is important for achieving successful health outcomes. Different levels of self-management have been reported among various populations, though little is known about ownership of equipment that can enhance accomplishment of these tasks.
This study examined diabetes self-management equipment ownership among rural older adults.
Participants included African American, American Indian, and white men and women 65 years of age and older. Data included equipment ownership overall and by ethnicity and sex across diabetes self-management domains (glucose monitoring, foot care, medication adherence, exercise, and diet). Associations between equipment ownership and demographic and health characteristics were assessed using logistic regression.
Equipment ownership ranged from 85.0% for blood glucose meters to less than 11% for special socks, modified dishes, and various forms of home exercise equipment. Equipment ownership was associated with ethnicity, living arrangements, mobility, poverty status, and formal education.
Rural older adults with diabetes are at risk because they lack equipment to perform some self-management tasks. Providers should be sensitive to and assist patients in overcoming this barrier.
To compare rates of discussion and treatment for depression among African Americans and Whites with diabetes.
Measures of diabetes status, depressive symptoms, and history of discussing and being treated for depression were collected from 56 adults with depressive symptoms accompanying diabetes who were drawn from a larger study of type 2 diabetes.
Analyses adjusted for confounders and multiple tests indicated that relative to Whites, African Americans were 6–12 times less likely to have ever: discussed depression with anyone (p=.007), discussed depression with their primary care physician (p=.008), been prescribed an antidepressant (p=.002), and they were 25 times less likely to have seen a psychiatrist (p=.003). There were no significant differences in discussing depression with clergypersons, or family members/friends.
Compared to their White counterparts, African Americans with depressive symptoms accompanying diabetes are unlikely to discuss depression with healthcare professionals, be prescribed antidepressant medication, or be seen by a psychiatrist. Minority diabetes patients' medical and psychiatric outcomes may improve if healthcare providers more actively initiate these discussions, provide culturally-tailored education about the nature of depression and its management, incorporate patient preferences into treatment plans, and establish relationships with persons more likely to learn about African American patient symptoms.
Depression; Treatment Seeking; Disparities; Diabetes