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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Sep 2;100(18):10574-9. Epub 2003 Aug 18.

Effectiveness of diabetes mellitus screening recommendations.

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  • 1Sociomedical Sciences Division, Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX 77555-1153, USA.

Erratum in

  • Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Oct 28;100(22):13116.


Screening guidelines proposed by the Expert Committee on the Diagnosis and Classification of Diabetes Mellitus have been endorsed by several medical societies. However, one-third of cases are undiagnosed, and complications at the time of diagnosis indicate that disease may have been present for several years before diagnosis. This study evaluates the effectiveness of the guidelines for detecting new cases of diabetes mellitus. By using a cross-sectional, representative sample of the United States (National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey, NHANES III), the guidelines are tested on adults, 20 years and older without a prior diagnosis of diabetes. Individuals are classified as nondiabetics (n = 6,241) or as having undiagnosed diabetes (n = 274) based on their blood glucose. Screening when one risk factor is present, as stated in the guidelines, has a true-positive rate of 100% and would require that 83% of the population be tested. Screening when two risk factors are present is more efficient, with a comparable true-positive rate (98%), but requires that only 59% of the population be tested. A notable finding is the earlier age of onset among minorities, which may be associated with other health disparities. Because diabetes occurs at younger ages in minorities, screening whites who are > or =40 and minorities > or =30 years of age has a high true-positive rate (95%) and also reduces testing (60%). The screening guidelines would be effective, if followed, and would essentially eliminate undiagnosed cases of diabetes.

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