Racial Disparities in Quality-Adjusted Life-Years Associated With Diabetes and Visual Impairment

McCollister, Kathryn E.; Zheng, D. Diane; Fernandez, Cristina A.; Lee, David J.; Lam, Byron L.; Arheart, Kristopher L.; Galor, Anat; Ocasio, Manuel; Muennig, Peter A.

OBJECTIVE Compare differences in health-related quality of life among blacks and whites to examine if race, diabetes, and visual impairment (VI) present a triple disadvantage in terms of quality-adjusted life expectancy.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS Data were analyzed from the 2000–2003 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, a nationally representative survey that contains the EuroQol 5D (EQ-5D). The EQ-5D generates health utility values that provide a measure of the morbidity associated with various health states, such as having moderate or severe problems with mobility. The EQ-5D score can be linked with life expectancy data to calculate quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs), the number of years of optimal health an individual is expected to live. Multivariate analyses were conducted to estimate and compare differences in QALYs by diabetes status, VI status, and race.

RESULTS Whites had a higher quality-adjusted life expectancy across all diabetes/VI comparisons. Overall, blacks with diabetes and VI had the fewest number of QALYs remaining (19.6 years), and whites with no impairment had the greatest number of QALYs remaining (31.6 years). Blacks with diabetes only had 1.7 fewer years of optimal health (fewer QALYs) than whites with diabetes. Within individuals with both diabetes and VI, however, this gap more than doubled, with blacks experiencing 3.5 fewer QALYs than whites.

CONCLUSIONS Although efforts to target and reduce racial health disparities associated with diabetes appear to be effective, black communities may be contributing to a greater overall burden of illness given poorer infrastructure and less accommodation for disabilities such as VI.


Also Published In

Diabetes Care

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Academic Units
Health Policy and Management
Published Here
November 11, 2016