Poor Numeracy Skills Linked to Glycemic Control in Patients with Type 1 Diabetes

Article showing the words diabetes type 1 with a pair of reading glasses resting on topUK researchers examined the numeracy and literacy skills of patients with type 1 diabetes to determine if there is a connection to achieved glycemic control independent of patients’ diabetes duration, diabetes education, demographic, and socioeconomic factors.

The results of their study were published online in October 2011in an article called “Poor numeracy skills are associated with glycaemic control in type 1 diabetes.” It was published in Diabetic Medicine.

There were 650 randomly selected patients from the Bournemouth Diabetes and Endocrine Centre’s diabetes register included in the study, but only 112 participants completed the study. The mean current age was 43.8 years old ± 12.5 years; 47% of the study participants were male, and 53% of participants were female. The mean duration of time the participants had diabetes was 22.0 years ± 13.2 years.

To measure study participants’ numeracy and literacy skills, the Skills for Life Initial Assessments were used, which indicate skills levels up to level 2 (equivalent to the British General Certificate of Secondary Education grades A* to C).

A1c levels were also measured in this study, and Pearson’s correlation was used to determine the relationship of patients’ numeracy and literacy scores with A1c levels.

To compare mean A1c between patients with or without level 2 skills, the following tests were used to investigate whether any differences were independent of the duration of diabetes, diabetes education, demographic, and socioeconomic factors:

  • t-tests
  • multiple linear regression

Researchers found that literacy rates were not linked to achieved A1c levels, but participants with numeracy skills at level 2 or above achieved an A1c lower than those with numeracy skills below level 2 (p=0.027).

In addition, higher socioeconomic status was associated with lower mean A1c levels, but the relationship between numeracy skills and A1c levels seemed to be independent of patients’ socioeconomic factors.

The study concluded that low numeracy skills were adversely associated with diabetes control. Researchers determined that assessment of numeracy skills may be relevant to how diabetes education programs are structured.

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