While the ethnic differences in the prevalence of diabetes were sizable, that was not the case for diabetic complications and geriatric conditions.

For the study, ethnically diverse population of 115,538 patients with diabetes, aged 60 and older, were examined.

"For patients with diabetes, geriatric conditions such as chronic pain, depression or dementia become increasingly common with age, yet it has been unknown to what extent these conditions vary across ethnic groups," said Andrew J Karter, senior research scientist at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research and lead author.

"We found that geriatric conditions were more common than diabetic complications. The welcome news was that the prevalence of these conditions varied relatively little by ethnicity," Karter noted.

More than 101,000 patients (88 percent) had at least one geriatric condition recorded in the previous two years. The prevalence of having any geriatric condition did not differ markedly by ethnicity either as 89 percent of African-Americans and whites had at least one geriatric condition.

Around 88 percent of Latinos, 83 percent of Filipinos and 81 percent of Asians had such conditions. The rate of having at least one diabetes complication was not markedly different across ethnic groups.

"Examination of ethnic patterns of prevalent geriatric conditions in diabetes is important for our efforts to reduce disparities and assure culturally competent and patient-centered care among an increasingly diverse population of older patients with diabetes," concluded Elbert S Huang from the University of Chicago and senior author.

The study was published online in the Journal of Aging and Health.

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