Journal of Social, Behavioral, and Health Sciences




Background: Diabetes mellitus is a significant public health concern globally as well as in Owerri, Nigeria. The deleterious effects of diabetes have been linked to poor glycemic control. According to the International Diabetes Federation, poor glycemic control is reflected in glycosylated hemoglobin levels greater than 7.0%, which are associated with substantial morbidity and mortality. Studies have shown a dramatic rise in diabetic complications in Nigeria, particularly in Owerri. However, evidence is lacking on specific risk factors associated with poor glycemic control among diabetes mellitus patients in Owerri. There is a gap in the literature regarding the association between health insurance and glycemic control in diabetic patients in Owerri. With health insurance assuming a significant position in healthcare service delivery in Nigeria, addressing this gap is valuable.

Methods: We performed a cross-sectional study of health insurance as a determinant of glycemic control among 160 type 2 diabetic patients attending the family medicine clinic at the Federal University Teaching Hospital, formerly the Federal Medical Center, Owerri. Participants were measured as not insured, insured-private, and insured-public/National Health Insurance Scheme. The dependent variable was glycemic control measured using glycosylated hemoglobin. We used ecosocial theory as the theoretical framework of this research. SPSS was used for data analysis; multiple logistic regression was applied to assess the association between insurance status and glycemic control in the participants.

Results:In the patients without health insurance coverage, the prevalence of poor glycemic control was 93.8% whereas in those with health insurance coverage, the prevalence was 60.0%. Logistic regression analysis showed that lack of access to health insurance was a determinant of glycemic control, with uninsured subjects at 28 times and 6 times increased risk of poor glycemic control compared with insured-private and insured-public subjects, respectively.

Conclusion: We have shown in our study that insured enrollees have an increased likelihood of good glycemic control relative to uninsured subjects. This finding has the potential to promote positive social change through optimization of the National Health Insurance Scheme. Enabling regulations and designing policies to explicitly cover diabetes preventive and control services in the scheme could lead to improved glycemic control, and, thus, reduce the burden of the disease.