The Longitudinal Influence of Social Determinants of Health on Glycemic Control in Elderly Adults With Diabetes


This study aimed to understand the longitudinal relationship between financial, psychosocial, and neighborhood social determinants and glycemic control (HbA1c) in older adults with diabetes.


Data from 2,662 individuals with self-reported diabetes who participated in the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) were used. Participants were followed from 2006 through 2014. Financial hardship, psychosocial, and neighborhood-level social determinant factors were based on validated surveys from the biennial core interview and RAND data sets. All social determinant factors and measurements of HbA1c from the time period were used and treated as time varying in analyses. SAS PROC GLIMMIX was used to fit a series of hierarchical linear mixed models. Models controlled for nonindependence among the repeated observations using a random intercept and treating each individual participant as a random factor. Survey methods were used to apply HRS weighting.


Before adjustment for demographics, difficulty paying bills (β = 0.18 [95% CI 0.02, 0.24]) and medication cost nonadherence (0.15 [0.01, 0.29]) were independently associated with increasing HbA1c over time, and social cohesion (–0.05 [–0.10, –0.001]) was independently associated with decreasing HbA1c over time. After adjusting for both demographics and comorbidity count, difficulty paying bills (0.13 [0.03, 0.24]) and religiosity (0.04 [0.001, 0.08]) were independently associated with increasing HbA1c over time.


Using a longitudinal cohort of older adults with diabetes, this study found that financial hardship factors, such as difficulty paying bills, were more consistently associated with worsening glycemic control over time than psychosocial and neighborhood factors.

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