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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Columbia: Low Awareness of Hypertension and Diabetes in China Elderly Causing Public Health Concerns

Awareness and diagnoses of hypertension and diabetes in China has been limited, according to a new study at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. Findings are online in the journal BMC Public Health.

Until now, there was little information on how individuals with hypertension or diabetes in China first became aware of their conditions.

“It does not seem that the  screening activities implemented by a national health survey improved awareness and management of these conditions. The persistent limited awareness of diabetes and hypertension remains a major public health concern,” said Dr. L.H. Lumey, professor of epidemiology.

Using data from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS), researchers measured the impact of a screening program for people aged 45 years and older between 2011 and 2015.

Of the more than 11,000 people screened in 2011, 49 percent were identified with hypertension and 18 percent with diabetes by medical examinations. Over 80 percent of the middle-aged and elderly Chinese diagnosed with hypertension and/or diabetes in 2011 reported in 2015 that they were unaware of having the disease(s).

There was some improvement in disease awareness between 2011 and 2015, mostly attributed to a medical examination initiated by the study participants themselves (over 75 percent), by their work unit or community (12–15 percent), but rarely (less than 3 percent) by the CHARLS examination.

Several reasons could explain the limited increase in reported disease awareness in 2015. Some participants may not have received the physical examination and blood test results; they may have not understood the results; or, they may have forgotten the results “This will need further study.”