Three-fourths of patients with diabetes have chronic complications

Pie charts showing acute and chronic complications among patients with diabetes.

About one in eight are diagnosed with acute complications. Community Health Centers help prevent and manage both.

Community Health Centers (CHCs) provide crucial primary care to people with limited resources by reducing barriers such as cost, lack of insurance, transportation and language. They serve as an access point to health care for underserved communities.Figure above: Prevalence of diabetes-related complications among Community Health Center patients with diabetes in 2019. Source: “Acute and chronic diabetes-related complications among patients with diabetes receiving care in community health centers,” Diabetes Care, 2022.

Researchers from OHSU Family Medicine and health care innovation non-profit OCHIN, a nonprofit leader in equitable health care innovation and a trusted partner to a growing national provider network, joined in order to measure the prevalence of acute and chronic diabetes-complications among people with diabetes. This was the first study to do so for this population.

“Our findings underscore the need for continued federal support of CHCs, which play an essential role in improving the health of economically and socially marginalized populations,” says first author Irina Chamine, Ph.D., project director in the Department of Family Medicine. “These are the populations who are at increased risk for developing diabetes and associated complications.”

This work assessed nearly 65,000 patients with diabetes who received care from 276 CHCs nationwide in 2019. Of these patients, one in eight were diagnosed with an acute complication, and about three quarters had a diagnosis of a chronic complication – a significant health and financial burden for them.

Those with acute or chronic complications had a greater number of ambulatory visits and were more likely to experience comorbid mental health or physical health conditions than patients with diabetes not experiencing complications.

“These findings highlight the significant burden of acute and chronic complications for CHC patients with diabetes,” says lead author Nathalie Huguet, Ph.D., associate professor of family medicine, OHSU School of Medicine.

This study reinforces the need for increased support for CHCs to improve accessibility and affordability of diabetes care management and help mitigate diabetes related complications among socioeconomically marginalized populations.

Read more in Diabetes Care: Acute and Chronic Diabetes-Related Complications Among Patients With Diabetes Receiving Care in Community Health Centers.

This work was supported by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) grant (U18DP006536).