Vulnerable Populations and Diabetes


  1. Amparo Gonzalez, RN, CDE, FAADE, Guest Editor

During the past 6 years, I have dedicated my skill and knowledge as a diabetes educator to the care of ethnic minorities of low socioeconomic status. Working with this population has presented me with multiple challenges, but also with many rewards. It is my privilege to present to you this Diabetes Spectrum From Research to Practice section addressing vulnerable populations and diabetes.

Diabetes is a serious health problem that disproportionally affects minority populations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention projects that if the current trend continues, one in three children born in the United States after 2000 will develop diabetes; for ethnic minorities, including blacks and Latinos, one in two children will develop diabetes.1

In the literature, many terms are used when addressing the topic of equity in health, such as “vulnerable populations,” “health disparities,” and “social determinants of health.” The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality defines vulnerable populations as those who are made vulnerable by their financial circumstances or place of residence, health, age, personal characteristics, functional or development status, ability to communicate effectively, and presence of chronic illness or disability.2 The National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities, a program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Office of Minority Health, defines health disparities as a particular type of health difference that is closely linked with social or economic disadvantage.3 These differences can be affected by determinants of health, including a range of personal, social, economic, and environmental factors that influence health status. Vulnerable populations experience health disparities as a result …

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