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Prev Chronic Dis. 2010 Jul;7(4):A86. Epub 2010 Jun 15.

Identifying populations at high risk for diabetes with the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, Rhode Island, 2003.

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  • 1Warren Alpert Medical School, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island 02912, USA.



We evaluated the feasibility of applying a previously validated diabetes risk score (DRS) to state-based surveillance data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) to assess population risk for developing type 2 diabetes or having undiagnosed type 2 diabetes.


We conducted a cross-sectional analysis of 1,969 adults aged 30 to 60 years who self-reported never having been diagnosed with diabetes. The Danish DRS was applied to the 2003 Rhode Island BRFSS data by using 6 categorical variables: age, sex, body mass index, known hypertension, leisure-time physical activity, and family history of diabetes. The DRS was the sum of these individual scores, which ranged from 0 to 60; a score of 31 or more was considered high-risk.


We found that 436 study participants, representing 23% of Rhode Island adults aged 30 to 60 years, had a high DRS. In the final model, adults with at least some college education were 43% less likely to have a high DRS, compared to adults with a high school diploma. Adults with no health insurance were 54% more likely to have a high DRS compared with insured adults.


By adding a family history question in odd years to correspond to the hypertension module in the BRFSS, routinely available state-level surveys can be used with a DRS to monitor populations at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. In Rhode Island, almost one-fourth of adults aged 30 to 60 years were at high risk for having undiagnosed diabetes or developing diabetes. Adults with lower education and without health insurance were at highest risk.

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