Lower verbal intelligence is associated with diabetic complications and slower walking speed in people with Type 2 diabetes: the Maastricht Study.

Spauwen PJ, Martens RJ, Stehouwer CD5, Verhey FR, Schram MT, Sep SJ, van der Kallen CJ, Dagnelie PC, Henry RM, Schaper NC, van Boxtel MP.

 

AIMS:

To determine the association of verbal intelligence, a core constituent of health literacy, with diabetic complications and walking speed in people with Type 2 diabetes.

METHODS:

This study was performed in 228 people with Type 2 diabetes participating in the Maastricht Study, a population-based cohort study. We examined the cross-sectional associations of score on the vocabulary test of the Groningen Intelligence Test with: 1) determinants of diabetic complications (HbA1c , blood pressure and lipid level); 2) diabetic complications: chronic kidney disease, neuropathic pain, self-reported history of cardiovascular disease and carotid intima-media thickness; and 3) walking speed. Analyses were performed using linear regression and adjusted in separate models for potential confounders and mediators. Significant age- and sex-adjusted associations were additionally adjusted for educational level in a separate model.

RESULTS:

After full adjustment, lower verbal intelligence was associated with the presence of neuropathic pain [odds ratio (OR) 1.18, 95% CI 1.02;1.36], cardiovascular disease (OR 1.14, 95% CI 1.01;1.30), and slower walking speed (regression coefficient -0.011 m/s, 95% CI -0.021; -0.002 m/s). These associations were largely explained by education. Verbal intelligence was not associated with blood pressure, glycaemic control, lipid control, chronic kidney disease or carotid intima-media thickness.

CONCLUSIONS:

Lower verbal intelligence was associated with the presence of some diabetic complications and with a slower walking speed, a measure of physical functioning. Educational level largely explained these associations. This implies that clinicians should be aware of the educational level of people with diabetes and should provide information at a level of complexity tailored to the patient.