To evaluate the Health-Related Quality of Life (HRQoL) of American Indians with diabetes, hypertension, or both conditions using the SF36; and to explore how the HRQoL is associated with help seeking among American Indians with and without these chronic conditions.
We analyzed data obtained from respondents with diabetes and/or hypertension who participated in a large epidemiological study of two culturally distinct American Indian tribes. Comparison data were provided by an age, gender, and tribe matched sample from the same study who did not report either condition.
The respondents with both diabetes and hypertension had the lowest HRQoL on all eight subscales of SF36. Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) showed that the assumption of equivalent factor loadings for participants with and without diabetes and/or hypertension was not satisfied. Biomedical service use was significantly associated with the SF36 physical health factor in those with hypertension only. Help seeking from traditional healers was significantly negatively related to physical factor scores for all the respondents except those with diabetes only.
Participants with comorbid diabetes and hypertension had worse HRQoL. The relationships between HRQoL and different types of help seeking varied depending on the comorbidity status of the respondents.