In addition to race and ethnicity, specific geographic regions are associated with poorer outcomes of care. Individuals with diabetes experiencing health disparities typically have worse long-term outcomes, such as increased diabetes complications and mortality. Zip code mapping, or geocoding, was utilized in this study to identify regions of the United States with high diabetes prevalence rates and to identify areas with high densities of minority populations. Use of this methodology to examine the effect of disease management on a large, diverse diabetes population revealed greater improvement in clinical testing rates in health disparity zones compared with members living outside of these areas. In particular, significant improvement was achieved by members living in minority zip codes and by members aged 65 years or older. These findings demonstrate that members living in areas of health disparity obtain even greater benefit from diabetes disease management program participation, helping to reduce gaps in care.
(Disease Management 2007;10:147–155)