Corresponding Author

Brittany L. Smalls


Author Area of Expertise

BLS, AA, LBW, and NES are health disparities and inequity researchers who conduct community-based research. BLS, LBW, and NES conduct research in rural communities. EC, FDLB, and EW are medical students who contributed to the drafting and finalizing the submitted manuscript.


Introduction: Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is associated with a range of co-morbid physical and psychological conditions, including depression. Yet there is a dearth of evidence regarding the prevalence of depression among those in Appalachia living with T2DM; this gap persists despite the higher regional prevalence of T2DM and challenging social determinants of health.

Purpose: This study aimed to provide greater detail about the relationships between T2DM and depressive symptoms in adults living in Appalachia Kentucky.

Methods: The present study was a cross-sectional analysis of baseline data derived from an ongoing study of Appalachia Kentucky adults living with T2DM. Outcome data included demographics, Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale, point-of-care HbA1c, and the Summary of Diabetes Self-Care Activities. Bivariate analysis was conducted using Pearson’s correlation to determine the statistically significant relationships between variables which were then included in a multiple regression model.

Results: The sample (N=365), consisted primarily of women (n=230, 64.6%) of mean age 64 years (±10.6); almost all (98%) were non-Hispanic White (n=349), and most were married (n=208, 59.1%). The majority (47.2%) reported having two comorbid conditions (n=161), including T2DM, and the mean HbA1c was 7.7% (1.7). Nearly 90% were nonsmokers (n=319). Depressive symptoms were reported in 25% (n=90) of participants. A higher number of comorbid conditions, increased age, Medicaid insurance, tobacco use, lower financial status, female sex, and disability compared to fully employed status all were correlated with a higher rate of depressive symptoms (r ≤ 0.2). The regression indicated that depressive symptoms were associated with age (β = –0.010, p = 0.001); full-time employment status compared to those who are disabled (β = –.0209, p = 0.18); men compared to women (β = –0.122, p = 0.042), and those who smoke compared to nonsmokers (β = 0.175, p = 0.038).

Implications: Depressive symptoms were correlated with T2DM among this sample of Appalachian residents with poorly controlled T2DM, especially among women. Given the vast number of social determinants (e.g., poverty, food insecurity, and rurality) affecting this population, healthcare providers must assess for depression and consider its negative influence on the patient’s ability to achieve glycemic control.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Recommended Citation

Smalls BL, Adegboyega A, Combs E, Travis EW, De La Barra F, William LB, Schoenberg N. Evaluating the association between depressive symptoms and glycemic control among residents of rural Appalachia. J Appalach Health 2022;4(3): 39–55. DOI: https://doi.org/10.13023/jah.0403.03.