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Language Barriers Don't Raise Diabetes Complication Risk

No increased risk of acute complications or CV events or death for immigrants with language barriers

Language Barriers Don't Raise Diabetes Complication Risk

FRIDAY, July 25, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- For immigrants, language barriers are not associated with an increased risk of diabetes complications, according to a study published online July 15 in Diabetes Care.

Karen Okrainec, M.D., from the University Health Network in Toronto, and colleagues examined the effect of language barriers on the risk of acute and chronic complications of diabetes and on mortality in a cohort of 87,707 immigrants to Canada with diabetes. Participants were stratified by language ability at the time of their immigration application. The cohort was followed for a median of 6.9 person-years.

The researchers found that immigrants were significantly older, were more likely to have migrated for family reunification, had less education, and had higher health care use (all P < 0.001). The adjusted rates of diabetes complications were not higher for immigrants with language barriers (acute complications: hazard ratio, 0.99; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.93 to 1.05; cardiovascular events or death: hazard ratio, 0.95; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.91 to 0.99). Older age, being unmarried, living in a rural neighborhood, and having less education were significant predictors of diabetes complications. The risk of cardiovascular events or death was significantly lower for immigrants who were older (≥65 years) and who arrived through family reunification (hazard ratio, 0.88; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.81 to 0.96).

"In a heterogenous immigrant population with universal insurance, language barriers were not found to increase the risk of diabetes complications," the authors write.

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