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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Texas A&M: Researchers Investigate Geographic Effects on Diabetes-related Hospital Mortality

Not much is known about how diabetes-related mortality varies regionally and how much different individual and geographic factors such as income and rurality affect mortality in hospitals. To gain a better understanding of these, a research team led by Dr. Alva O. Ferdinand, assistant professor and deputy director of the Southwest Rural Health Center, analyzed data on diabetes-related mortality in hospitals across the U.S. between 2009 and 2015. The goal of this study, published in Journal of Diabetes and Its Complications, was to examine geographic and individual-level factors associated with higher mortality risk to better identify groups who face greater risk of diabetes-related hospital death.

Dr. Ferdinand and colleagues examined hospitalizations in which patients had a primary diabetes-related diagnosis and then determined whether they died of a diabetes-related cause while in the hospital. The researchers then included information on each patient’s residence (urban or rural) and census region (Northeast, Midwest, South and West) as well as social and demographic variables such as age, gender, race and payment source (Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance or uninsured) in their analyses.

Micropolitan and non-core U.S. residents had significantly higher odds of experiencing a diabetes-related hospital death than their counterparts in large central metropolitan areas. These findings build on the results of other studies observing that rural diabetes patients are less likely to receive preventive care and are thus more likely to be hospitalized for more serious complications later. The study’s findings also suggested that the South and Midwest regions need substantial improvements in preventive diabetes care.