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Disabil Health J. 2010 Jul;3(3):179-85. doi: 10.1016/j.dhjo.2009.10.004. Epub 2009 Dec 10.

Quality of diabetes care for adults with developmental disabilities.

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Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, University of Kansas School of Medicine, Kansas City, KS 66160, USA.



Given that individuals with developmental disabilities have a history of difficulty accessing appropriate health care, possess numerous risk factors for diabetes, and frequently have unique needs within the health care setting, it is important to conduct surveillance research to determine the quality of their diabetes care.


We assessed the quality of diabetes care for adults with developmental disabilities enrolled in Kansas Medicaid. Developmental disability was defined in accordance with Kansas Medicaid program eligibility and included individuals with intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, autism, and/or seizure disorder.


We identified a retrospective cohort of persons with developmental disabilities who were also diabetic and continuously enrolled in Kansas Medicaid. We tracked their quality of care measures (Hb(A1c)/glucose testing, cholesterol testing, eye examinations, microalbuminaria screening, and primary care visits) across the subsequent 12 months. Quality care measures were evaluated in relation to basic demographic variables and comorbid hypertension using unconditional logistic regression.


Among 5,960 adults with developmental disability, 666 had diabetes (11.2%). Annual testing rates were Hb(A1c)/glucose testing, 51.7%; cholesterol, 44.3%; eye examinations, 29.3%; and microalbuminaria, 18.5%. Nearly all (93.5%) had contact with a primary care provider during the period. Comorbid hypertension was associated with higher rates of Hb(A1c), cholesterol testing, and primary care visits. Dual eligibility was associated with lower Hb(A1c)/glucose testing and cholesterol testing rates but comparable rates for other measures. Caucasians were more likely to have had an eye examination but less likely to have had their microalbumin checked.


Adults with developmental disabilities and diabetes who were enrolled in the Kansas Medicaid Program were screened at lower frequency than published national figures for key quality indicators of diabetes care. These results call for action to find approaches to improve their quality of care. Further work is needed to understand the barriers to appropriate care and incentives that will remedy these gaps. In addition, research is needed to determine the accuracy of diabetes identification, treatment, and monitoring of adults with developmental disabilities.

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