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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Texas A&M: Diabetes Risk in Southern Rural Areas Remain Unaltered Over Time

Dr. Timothy Callaghan, assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Texas A&M School of Public Health, led a team that found diabetes mortality rates in southern rural areas in the U.S. have remained nearly unchanged, unlike other regions of the country, over the past two decades. Mortality rates have significantly improved in the Northeast and Midwest since 1999, but rural areas in the South have hardly changed in reported cases in the Journal of Rural Health study.

Dr. Callaghan was supported by a grant from the Southwest Rural Health Research Center and the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy for his work to understand diabetes in America. The research team determined how diabetes has changed over time from 1999 to 2016.

“Our findings, more than anything, show big discrepancies between diabetes mortality in urban and rural America,” Dr. Callaghan said. “Across census regions we’ve seen improvements in urban America. In rural America we have not seen the same level of improvement.”

“This is ultimately a study looking at changing mortality rates as opposed to what caused them, but we hypothesized in the paper that it could be caused by a few different things,” Dr. Callaghan said. “We think it could potentially be the impact of diabetes education and training or differences that might exist between urban and rural areas in varying regions across the United States.”

The research conducted took publicly available data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for information on mortality in state registries.

“Our research team has been working on chronic diseases across levels of rurality and region for the past two years, and we have found pretty consistently that for some chronic diseases, including diabetes, rates are worse in the South,” Dr. Callaghan said.