Open Access Open Badges Research article

Quality of care for patients with type 2 diabetes in general practice according to patients' ethnic background: a cross-sectional study from Oslo, Norway

Anh T Tran1*, Lien M Diep2, John G Cooper3, Tor Claudi4, Jørund Straand1, Kåre Birkeland5, Wibeche Ingskog5 and Anne K Jenum5

Author Affiliations

1 Section of General Practice, Institute of Health and Community, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

2 The Research Department, Oslo University Hospital, Aker, Oslo, Norway

3 Department of Medicine, Stavanger University Hospital, Stavanger, Norway

4 Department of Medicine, Nordland Hospital, Bodø, Norway

5 Oslo Diabetes Research Centre, Oslo University Hospital, Aker, Oslo, Norway

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Health Services Research 2010, 10:145  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-145

Published: 28 May 2010



In recent decades immigration to Norway from Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe has increased rapidly. The aim of this study was to assess the quality of care for type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) patients from these ethnic minority groups compared with the care received by Norwegians.


In 2006, electronic medical record data were screened at 11 practices (49 GPs; 58857 patients). 1653 T2DM patients cared for in general practice were identified. Ethnicity was defined as self-reported country of birth. Chi-squared tests, one-way ANOVAs, multiple regression, linear mixed effect models and generalized linear mixed models were used.


Diabetes was diagnosed at a younger age in patients from the ethnic minority groups (South Asians (SA): mean age 44.9 years, Middle East/North Africa (MENA): 47.2 years, East Asians (EA): 52.0 years, others: 49.0 years) compared with Norwegians (59.7 years, p < 0.001). HbA1c, systolic blood pressure (SBP) and s-cholesterol were measured in >85% of patients in all groups with minor differences between minority groups and Norwegians. A greater proportion of the minority groups were prescribed hypoglycaemic medications compared with Norwegians (≥79% vs. 72%, p < 0.001). After adjusting for age, gender, diabetes duration, practice and physician unit, HbA1c (geometric mean) for Norwegians was 6.9% compared to 7.3-7.5% in the minority groups (p < 0.05). The proportion with poor glycaemic control (HbA1c > 9%) was higher in minority groups (SA: 19.6%, MENA: 18.9% vs. Norwegians: 5.6%, p < 0.001. No significant ethnic differences were found in the proportions reaching the combined target: HbA1c ≤ 7.5%, SBP ≤ 140 mmHg, diastolic blood pressure (DBP) ≤ 85 mmHg and total s-cholesterol ≤5.0 mmol/L (Norwegians: 25.5%, SA: 24.9%, MENA: 26.9%, EA: 26.1%, others:17.5%).


Mean age at the time of diagnosis of T2DM was 8-15 years younger in minority groups compared with Norwegians. Recording of important processes of care measures is high in all groups. Only one in four of most patient groups achieved all four treatment targets and prescribing habits may be sub-optimal. Patients from minority groups have worse glycaemic control than Norwegians which implies that it might be necessary to improve the guidelines to meet the needs of specific ethnic groups.