In a recent study, Monika M. Safford, M.D., assistant professor of Preventive Medicine at UAB, and a team of researchers found that nearly half of poorly educated, young adults with diabetes smoke cigarettes, magnifying the health risks associated with early-onset diabetes. This study – the first large, multi-centre study concerning educational attainment and smoking behaviours among adults with diabetes in the United States – is scheduled to appears in the American Journal of Public Health and is available online for early access at www.ajph.org.
“We knew from previous research that low levels of education and poverty are associated with smoking in the general patient population,” Safford said. “But, little is known about smoking patterns among adults with diabetes. We wanted to explore this, focusing specifically on socioeconomic influences, such as educational differences, on the prevalence of smoking in this group.”Nearly 9,000 adults with diabetes responded to the survey, which researchers used to assess frequency of smoking and education level. Fifteen percent of the participants reported that they currently smoke. Researchers found the prevalence of smoking to be evenly distributed among genders, although it differed significantly across age groups. There were many more smokers between the ages of 25 and 44 than there were in the 45-to-65 age group or the 65-and-older age group. Smoking also was more common among African Americans, those with low levels of education (especially among the 25 to 44 year olds), those with a shorter duration of diabetes, those who did not attend health education classes and those who showed signs of depression. The highest prevalence of smoking was observed in the 25-to-44 year olds with less than a high school education. In fact, half of this age group smoke.”We observed striking differences in rates of smoking among adults between the ages of 25 and 64,” Safford says. “The study leads us to believe that intensive interventions and support should be targeted toward the most vulnerable group, which according to our research is young, poorly educated adults with diabetes. These interventions need to be tailored to reach patients with the lowest educational level.” (Source: American Journal of Public Health : University of Alabama at Birmingham : August 2007)