According to CDC data, between 2002 and 2015 there was a 1.9% increase per year in type 1 diabetes cases among youth under 20. Even steeper increases were reported for African Americans (2.7%), Hispanics (4.0%), and Asian/Pacific Islanders (4.4%). Although the increase in cases needs to be further explored, ensuring those most vulnerable receive proper disease management is imperative. Diabetes technologies, like continuous glucose monitors and insulin pumps, can improve the quality of life for youth with type 1 diabetes. Unfortunately, few young people utilize these devices, especially those in minority ethnic groups.
A study published in the Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology explored the experience of diabetes technology among Latinx and non-Latinx youth with type 1 diabetes. Researchers recruited English and Spanish-speaking Latinx and non-Latinx participants with type 1 diabetes to explore these differences. In total, there were 173 participants between the ages of 11 and 25 years. Two questionnaires were used: the Barriers to Diabetes Device Use and the Technology Use Attitude questionnaires.
The results revealed that English and Spanish-speaking Latinx youth were more likely to have public insurance. Compared to non-Latinx or Spanish-speaking Latinx participants, English-speaking Latinx youth had:
Higher Hemoglobin A1c values
Less continuous glucose monitor use
More negative attitudes about technology
Participants across all groups reported similar barriers, including: fear of change, difficulty trusting technology, expectation management, hassles and burdens of devices, diabetes distress, and discomfort with technology.
To date, most studies have focused on White patients with private insurance. Unfortunately, few have assessed the experience of diverse pediatric patients with limited resources. This study revealed that Latinx English-speaking participants had less favorable attitudes toward diabetes technology than other groups. In addition, the differences in continuous glucose monitor use were associated with socioeconomic status. Additional research is necessary to explore how to deliver interventions to diverse populations.
Tsai, D., Garcia, J. F., Fogel, J. L., Wee, C. P., Reid, M. W., & Raymond, J. K. (2022). Diabetes Technology Experiences Among Latinx and Non-Latinx Youth with Type 1 Diabetes. Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology, 16(4), 834-843. https://doi.org/10.1177/19322968211029260