Amy McQueen, assistant professor of medicine at the Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine, has been awarded a $20,000 grant from the Center for Diabetes Translational Research to document unmet basic needs and diabetic-related healthcare gaps among Medicaid beneficiaries with Type 2 diabetes.
The research, which starts in June 2017, is being conducted in collaboration with the Envolve Center for Health Behavior Change™ at the Brown School, and will inform future policy and interventions to reduce diabetes-related health disparities.
Type 2 diabetes is a significant public health problem, affecting close to 30 million Americans, a disproportionate number of whom are racial and ethnic minorities. Poor diabetes control and adherence to treatment recommendations leads to diminished health outcomes and increased risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness and amputations. Individuals living with diabetes who have unmet basic needs – such as food insecurity, unsafe or inadequate housing, or lack of social connectedness – are at an even greater disadvantage – often so consumed with meeting these basic needs that health needs are overlooked.
A growing number of studies support the benefits of addressing basic needs to improve health outcomes and utilization of health services. These studies show that interventions that address basic needs can have beneficial effects on both physical and mental health and improve health seeking and maintenance behaviors.
“This pilot provides a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate the feasibility of conducting surveys of basic needs and diabetes care among Medicaid members from a large health plan, as well as comparing survey data with administrative (claims) data.”
The study will provide important feasibility data to design a future basic needs navigation intervention aimed at improving health behaviors and health outcomes for individuals living with diabetes.
Building partnerships with healthcare systems that already serve those living with diabetes is an innovative and potentially fruitful strategy; this pilot will support continued collaboration between Envolve Center researchers and Louisiana HealthCare Connections, a Centene health plan based in Baton Rouge, LA. The study will use claims data and a survey to identify and characterize profiles for Type 2 diabetics in Louisiana, including their unmet basic needs.
McQueen anticipates the study results will contribute to the growing literature on the co-occurrence of unmet basic needs and healthcare gaps among low income adults, and inform future policy and interventions to reduce diabetes-related health disparities.
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