Racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in the use of newer diabetes medications in the Look AHEAD study

The Look AHEAD Research Group

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Background: Among patients with type 2 diabetes, minority racial/ethnic groups have a higher burden of cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, and hypoglycaemia. These groups may especially benefit from newer diabetes medication classes, but high cost may limit access. We examined the association of race/ethnicity with the initiation of newer diabetes medications (GLP-1 receptor agonists, DPP-4 inhibitors, SGLT-2 inhibitors). Methods: We conducted a secondary analysis of the Look AHEAD (Action for Health in Diabetes) trial including participants with at least one study visit after April 28, 2005. Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate the association between race/ethnicity and socioeconomic factors with time to initiation of any newer diabetes medication from April 2005 to February 2020. Models were adjusted for demographic and clinical characteristics. Findings: Among 4,892 participants, 63.6%, 15.7%, 12.6%, 5.2%, and 2.9% were White, Black, Hispanic, American Indian or Alaskan Native (AI/AN), or other race/ethnicity, respectively. During a median follow-up of 8.3 years, 2,180 (45.2%) participants were initiated on newer diabetes medications. Race/ethnicity was associated with newer diabetes medication initiation (p=.019). Specifically, initiation was lower among Black (HR 0.81, 95% CI 0.70–0.94) and AI/AN participants (HR 0.51, 95% CI 0.26–0.99). Yearly family income was inversely associated with initiation of newer diabetes medications (HR 0.78, 95% CI 0.62–0.98) comparing the lowest and highest income groups. Findings were mostly driven by GLP-1 receptor agonists. Interpretation: These findings provide evidence of racial/ethnic disparities in the initiation of newer diabetes medications, independent of socioeconomic factors, which may contribute to worse health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100111
JournalThe Lancet Regional Health - Americas
StatePublished - Feb 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Diabetes care
  • Diabetes outcomes
  • Medication initiation
  • Newer medications
  • Racial disparities
  • Socioeconomic disparities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health Policy
  • Internal Medicine


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