Dropping Out With Diabetes

Diabetes patients have increased high school drop out rates and lower wage earnings

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) It goes without saying that diseases affect your physical health. But they also can shape your quality of life. It turns out that young people with diabetes may not fare as well in school or in their jobs.

Young people with diabetes are more likely to drop out of high school than their peers without diabetes. They are also more likely to earn lower wages than their non-diabetic counterparts.

"Stay in school, and seek a doctor's advice."

Diabetes has become a full-blown crisis in the United States. In spite of the growing rates of diabetes, researchers have not explored the non-medical consequences for young adults with the condition.

In light of this lack of research, Jason M. Fletcher, Ph.D., M.S., associate professor at the Yale School of Public Health, and Michael R. Richards, a graduate student at the Yale School of Public Health, set out to explore two non-medical outcomes for young people with diabetes: schooling and earnings.

They found that young people with diabetes were six percent more likely to drop out of high school, compared to young people without the disease.

Employment and wages were also worse for young people with diabetes. These people can expect to earn $160,000 less in wages than those without diabetes.

Young adults with diabetes who have a parent with diabetes also leads to worse results. For example, a young person with diabetes who has a parent with diabetes is four to six percent less likely to attend college, even if that young person's disease is under control.

"Diabetes is relentless," says Theresa Garnero, APRN, BC-ADM, MSN, CDE, author and illustrator of Your First Year with Diabetes and DIABETease, a lighter look at the serious subject of diabetes. "I would imagine that the time consumed managing the disease as well as sick days take away from energy spent at school and in the workplace."

"Don't let these authors discourage you from going for the life you want," advises Garnero, who was not involved in the study. "Dropout was 6% higher but that doesn't mean ALL kids with diabetes will face this issue. For those that do, perhaps school systems need to make some proactive policies to reverse that statistic."

According to the study's authors, "These results highlight the urgency of attacking this growing health problem." The authors also recommend that health advocates start in-school screening for diabetes to see if the disease is affecting students' learning and performance before the classic symptoms of diabetes appear.

Dr. Fletcher and Richards based their findings on a survey of about 15,000 teenagers. The survey - called the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health - is a study of teen health behaviors and consequences of those behaviors into young adulthood.

The full results of the study are published in the journal Health Affairs

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Review Date: 
January 12, 2012
Last Updated:
January 20, 2012