The Doctor is in, the Patient Isn't

Diabetic Latinos and African Americans miss more visits to the doctor

(RxWiki News) If you have diabetes, making it to your regular doctor's appointments is extremely important. In fact, it could be the difference between good and bad outcomes. Yet some patients often miss their appointments.

Latinos and African Americans with diabetes are more likely than other ethnic groups to miss appointments with their doctors.

"Go to your doctor's appointments."

Diabetes patients who miss their scheduled doctor's appointments tend to have worse control of their disease. Knowing this, Melissa M. Parker, Ph.D., from Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, CA, and colleagues wanted to see if there were differences in appointment-keeping between ethnic groups.

If doctors are aware of which patients are likely to miss appointments, they can take the proper steps to encourage better attendance.

From their study, the researchers found that Latinos and African Americans had the highest risk of missing scheduled primary care appointments. Twelve percent of Latinos with diabetes and 10 percent of African Americans with diabetes missed more than one-third of their planned doctor's appointments. In comparison, seven percent of Filipinos, six percent of Caucasians, and five percent of Asians missed over one-third of their appointments.

Diabetes patients from all ethnic groups were less likely to keep their appointments if the majority of their care came from same-day visits to the doctor.

Patients who missed more than one-third of their appointments were likely to have less control over their diabetes. Missing so many appointments was associated in a 20 percent increased risk of high blood sugar, a 30 percent increased risk of high levels of LDL cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol), and a 40 percent increased risk of high blood pressure.

According to the study's authors, "These results have important implications for public health and health plan policy, as primary care rapidly expands toward open access to care supported by the patient-centered medical home model." The patient-centered medical home is a model for health care that helps create better partnerships between individual patients and their personal doctors.

This cohort study is published in the journal Health Services Research.

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Review Date: 
October 31, 2011