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Diabetes Educ. 2010 May-Jun;36(3):435-45. doi: 10.1177/0145721710364419. Epub 2010 Mar 23.

Race/ethnicity, social support, and associations with diabetes self-care and clinical outcomes in NHANES.

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  • 1Department of Health Services, University of Washington School of Public Health, Seattle, WA 98195-7660, USA.



The purpose of this study was to evaluate how social support and race/ethnicity were associated with diabetes self-care behaviors and clinical outcomes.


Using the cross-sectional 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), the authors examined white, black, and Latino respondents who self-reported a diabetes diagnosis (n = 450), estimating the associations of social support on diabetes outcomes. The primary exposure was a social support index (0-5), which assessed the number of sources of support in one's life. Outcomes were self-care behaviors (controlling weight, exercising, controlling fat/caloric intake, checking feet, and self-monitoring blood glucose) and intermediate clinical outcomes (hemoglobin A1C, diastolic blood pressure, and low-density lipoprotein [LDL]).


There were no differences in social support by race/ethnicity. The authors observed several significant race/ethnicity by social support interactions in adjusted models, controlling for age, gender, education, self-reported health, depression, functional disability, insurance status, and insulin use. Among blacks, social support was associated with controlling weight (odds ratio [OR] = 1.55, P = .03), exercising (OR = 1.38, P = .03), controlling fat/calories (OR = 1.84, P = .03), and lower diastolic blood pressure (beta = -3.07, P = .02). Among whites, social support was associated with lower LDL (beta = -9.45, P = .01). No significant effects were noted for Latinos.


The relationship of social support with diabetes management differed by race/ethnicity, with the strongest findings among blacks. Social support may be influential for maintaining self-care behaviors among blacks and controlling lipid levels among whites.

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