Young adults with diabetes had most disrupted medical care during pandemic

Nov. 19, 2021

Among adults with diabetes, those aged 18-29 years old reported the most disruption in access to and use of medical care and the least engagement in prevention of COVID-19 during the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Diabetes affects approximately one in 10 people in the United States and is a risk factor for severe COVID-19, especially when a patient’s diabetes is not well managed, the CDC said.

To find out about how people with diabetes managed the disease during the pandemic, as well as about their attitudes towards COVID-19 prevention and vaccination, the CDC administered a web-based survey in February and March to 5,261 U.S. adults who were at least 18 years old.

Among respondents, 760 (14%) adults who reported having diabetes currently managed with medication were included in the analysis. Younger adults (aged 18-29 years) with diabetes were more likely to report having missed medical care during the past 3 months (87%) than were those aged 30-59 years (63%) or 60-plus years old (26%).

Overall, 44% of younger adults reported difficulty accessing diabetes medications. Younger adults with diabetes also reported lower intention to receive a COVID-19 vaccine course (66%) compared with adults aged 60 years or older.

Younger adults with diabetes reported having the lowest percentage of in-person healthcare appointments (53%), compared with those aged 30-59 years (76%) or aged 60 years or older (85%).

Younger adults reported the lowest support for COVID-19 prevention guidelines (28%) and COVID-19 prevention behaviors (30%), compared with adults aged 30-59 years (62% and 64%, respectively;) and 60 years and older (51% and 72%, respectively). A lower proportion of younger adults reported that they intended to be vaccinated (66%) than did those who were aged 60 years or older (85%).

“Younger adults with diabetes largely did not consider themselves at risk for severe COVID-19 and reported the lowest engagement in preventive behaviors. Younger adults might be unaware of their own risk for severe COVID-19. Significantly fewer younger adults with diabetes reported health insurance coverage compared with older adults; thus, health policy interventions that increase access to health insurance coverage among younger adults with diabetes might be warranted,” the CDC said.

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