Review Article

Addressing Cultural Barriers to the Successful Use of Insulin in Hispanics with Type 2 Diabetes

Authors: Carlos Campos, MD, MPH


Hispanics experience a higher rate of diabetes than non-Hispanic whites and tend to have worse glycemic control and a greater risk of diabetes-related complications. Once oral antidiabetic agents become insufficient, insulin plays an important role in achieving glycemic goals. However, many Hispanic patients are resistant to initiating insulin therapy or hesitant to increase doses, as necessary, to control their glucose levels. Barriers to insulin therapy include socioeconomic issues (eg, cost, insurance status), language difficulties, poor health literacy, and cultural beliefs that impact the patient-provider relationship and negatively affect patients' perceptions of diabetes and insulin. Healthcare providers can help overcome these issues and improve patient-provider communication by practicing culturally competent care. Implementation of a simple titration regimen using once-daily basal insulin may enable Hispanic patients to maintain glycemic control and improve outcomes.

Key Points

* Compared with non-Hispanic whites, Hispanics experience a higher rate of diabetes and tend to have worse glycemic control and a greater risk of diabetes-related complications.

* Hispanics often resist insulin therapy initiation and hesitate to increase doses to control glucose levels due to language barriers, poor health literacy, and cultural issues.

* Healthcare providers can help overcome these barriers to insulin therapy through culturally competent care.

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