(HealthDay News) — For immigrants, language barriers are not associated with an increased risk for diabetes complications, according to a study published online in Diabetes Care.

Karen Okrainec, MD, from the University Health Network in Toronto, and colleagues examined the effect of language barriers on the risk of acute and chronic complications of diabetes and on mortality in a cohort of 87,707 immigrants to Canada with diabetes. Participants were stratified by language ability at the time of their immigration application. The cohort was followed for a median of 6.9 person-years.

The researchers found that immigrants were significantly older, were more likely to have migrated for family reunification, had less education and had higher health care use (all P<.001).

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The adjusted rates of diabetes complications were not higher for immigrants with language barriers (acute complications: HR=0.99; 95% CI, 0.93-1.05; cardiovascular [CV] events or death: HR=0.95; 95% CI, 0.91-0.99).

Older age, being unmarried, living in a rural neighborhood and having less education were significant predictors of diabetes complications.

The risk for CV events or death was significantly lower for immigrants who were older (≥65 years) and who arrived through family reunification (HR=0.88; 95% CI, 0.81-0.96).

“In a heterogenous immigrant population with universal insurance, language barriers were not found to increase the risk of diabetes complications,” the researchers wrote.


  1. Okrainec K et al. Diabetes Care. 2014; doi:10.2337/dc14-0801.